Educational Technology Open Source Textbook

Welcome to the educational technology textbook project.

Foundations of Educational Technology

This chapter provides an introduction to the concept of educational technology and overview of what the term entails.

Technology for Meaningful Learning


Technology for Meaningful Learning

This chapter will investigate and explore the various theories and resources on technology tools and meaningful learning.

What is meaningful learning?

What is Meaningful Learning?

Meaningful learning is basically when prior learning and prior experiences are tied into current lessons. Meaningful learning occurs when complex ideas and information are combined with students’ own experiences and prior knowledge to form personal and unique understandings. Learning is meaningful when the student comprehends the relationship of what is being learned to other knowledge. This is in direct contrast with rote learning, which is simply memorizing content but not necessarily learning or understanding the content.

The main characteristics of meaningful learning are that it is active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative. These terms are defined as follows:

Meaningful learning can be recognized through various indicators. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) provides a sample of useful indicators to be used as guidelines for planning new instructional activities and lessons and evaluating current instructional methods.

The NCREL provides several tools for planning meaningful lessons ( and evaluating existing lessons (

The next 3 sections will highlight meaningful learning on 3 levels: elementary, middles school, and high school.


“Children derive greater meaning in their school-based academic work from three sources. First, when they are actively engaged in the attempt to make sense of things they experience in school, they are encouraged to be meaning makers. Second, they derive meaning from seeing the relationship of parts to the whole, rather than being left with only parts. Opportunities to connect one concept or one skill to another increase students’ conceptual grasp of what they are doing, whether it involves communication, problem solving, appreciation of artwork, or carrying out projects. Third, they find meaning by connecting new learning experiences to their existing body of knowledge, assumptions, and meanings, much of which is rooted in their upbringing and cultural roots. We refer to teaching that seeks to maximize these three things as ‘teaching for meaning’” (Knapp and Associates, 1995, ¶ 2)

Learning Old Things in New Ways

A significant reason why technology should be present in elementary schools is to allow for effective differentiation of instruction (wikipedia link). Depending on a student’s learning style, multimedia (wikipedia) is an excellent way of enabling elementary students to construct their learning and enjoy the overall learning experience. German researchers, Zumbach, Kumpf and Koch (2004) conducted a case study on an elementary school in Germany that assessed the benefits of combining project-based learning (PBL) with technology. Using Microsoft PowerPoint, students worked in groups to tell, infer, predict the outcome of a story about a badger. The students were found to be engaged and focused on the task at hand. Audio and visual effects were used in this lesson and found to be very effective to the learning experience. Pre and post assessments found the students to be able to recall details and facts more vividly and the students appeared to be more motivated. When technology is used appropriately it can make a positive difference.

Quality And Equity in Education?

A Balanced Playing Field for All Students

Means (1997) claims that schools that capitalize on the relationship between technology and education reform will help students to develop higher order skills and to function effectively in the world beyond the classroom. Achieving such fundamental change, however, requires a transformation of not only the underlying pedagogy (basic assumptions about the teaching and learning process) but also the kinds of technology applications typically used in classrooms serving at-risk students.


Middle schoolers are a breed apart. They are breaking away from their family’s mandates toward those of their peers’. They fear the adult responsibilities which high schoolers are beginning to embrace, but, nonetheless, are curious about the adult world they see approaching. “Be certain that school is not just a preparation for a future world but a place where one can truly practice what one is learning; …making technological connections with real people who are part of the country in the text — in other words, using what they are learning in class to do what adults do” (Baenen, 2006). For learning to be meaningful then for middle schoolers, it must concentrate on being ‘authentic’ (or problem-based), ‘cooperative,’ and relevant.

According to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), middle schoolers are able to use practical computer applications, Web tools, graphing calculators, communication delivery systems, and are familiar with ethical issues surrounding computer use (Tileston, 2004, pp. 23-27). Middle schoolers are ready to move on to using technology to develop critical thinking skills. However, these require metacognition. At a time when middle schoolers tend to project outwardly, longing to be part of a group, such an introverted activity may seem anathema. However, middle schoolers are still in a stage of vacillation from introversion to extroversion and back again. Therefore, it behooves educators to coax the reflective state in middle schoolers by requiring them to constantly monitor their progress. “Reflection cements the knowledge that learners construct. (Jonassen, 2000, p. 99).

Just how can instructional technology (IT) enhance meaningful learning in the middle school? “IT enables activities like videoconferencing so that students can talk with others who are physically, intellectually, and culturally distant from them. The technology also enables classes in different communities to collaborate on science experiments, sharing data and results to enrich each other’s findings” (Pritchard, 2002, p. 41). As long as lesson plans can be devised to make the experience feel real to middle schoolers, learning can be meaningful to them by requiring them to define, classify, compare, contrast, challenge assumptions, project, explain, and/or reason all in an atmosphere of cooperation. “Working with technology can help students to reach the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, especially analysis, synthesis, and evaluation” (Tileston, p. 37).

High School

Technology can be used in many different ways to promote learning at the high school level. However, at any level, “students do not learn from technology, they learn from thinking” (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003, p. 11). Teachers often use the same material from year to year making few changes each year. When incorporating technology teachers should keep in mind their overall objectives. If the technology does not support the objectives or it takes away from the lesson, then the teacher may want to rethink the use of technology.

“The skill and interest level in technology, as well as access to handhelds, laptops, and tablet computers, means students can – and want to- use technology (Jackson, 2005, ¶12). One way to integrate technology is through authentic assessments. A Webquest is an example of an authentic assessment. “Webquests are online, interactive modules that allow students to be involved in inquiry-oriented learning” and therefore leading to a more meaningful approach (Kundu & Bain, 2006, ¶8). Depending on the type of Webquest, students are not limited to the normal resources. They can take virtual fieldtrips to learn the material through the Internet.

Whatever type of technology a teacher chooses, the technology “should be used as engagers and facilitators of thinking and knowledge construction” (Jonassen, et al, 2003, p. 12).


In psychology and education, learning theories are attempts to describe how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning. Two key learning theories, Behaviorism and Constructivism are described in more detail below. Another key learning theory not described below, but worth exploring is Cogntivism as the site is very well constructed. For a more detailed look at how people learn and what technology might have to do with learning, please see this article.

Behaviorism (VAl)


Behaviorism is a theory of animal and human learning that only focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts mental activities. Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of a new behavior. (Funderstanding, 2001)

Theorists and Effects to Education

One of the best examples of behaviorism is the story of Pavlov’s dog. In case you are not familiar I will summarize the story: Pavlov would ring a bell every time he fed his dog so after a while the dog expected to get food when he rang the bell. Pavlov slowly started reducing the amount of food the dog received when he rang the bell and eventually the food didn’t arrive when the bell rang. Another name for behaviorism would be conditioning.

In the 1950s and 1960s behaviorism was a very popular style of teaching. Students who were using correct behavior were rewarded and students who were not acting properly were punished. B. F. Skinner was a well know psychologist known for his research on behaviorism. Skinner believed this is the reason that people and animals act the ways they do. Skinner stated that a student does not passively absorb knowledge from the world around him but must play an active role, and that the action is not simply talking” (Boerre, p.5). As students take a more active role in the classroom, there tends to be a positive correlation to increased learning. An active role can be accomplished by asking questions, presenting to the class, answering direct questions, and helping out fellow students are just a few of the ways. B.F. Skinner said, “A behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future” (Boerre, p. 3). When students are successful they gain self confidence and are able to become more active participants in their own education.

Direct instruction is not a lecture approach but it is an instructional model that focuses on the interaction between teachers and students (Magliaro, Lockee, & Burton, 2005). Projects that require interaction among students are very powerful. They allow the students creativity and show them that what they are learning is valuable and worthwhile. Student projects that involve multimedia assets encourage this belief even more. The students learn to take pride in their work. Often, direct instruction involves some explication of the skill or subject matter to be taught and may or may not include an opportunity for student participation or individual practice.


Constructivist learning theory believes that the student must be able to build learning processes rather than just gain knowledge. While the latter statement may be oversimplified, it is the driving force behind constructivist learning theory and stands in stark contrast to behaviorism theory. Many theories on education and current research have “demonstrated the importance of social interaction in teaching and learning…and highlight the ‘knowledge construction’ processes of the learner and suggest that ‘meaning making’ develops through the social process of language use over time” (Ferdig & Trammell, 2004). This research reflects Vygotsky’s educational theory (1978) that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition. Per Vygotsky (1978), “Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals" (p. 57). Students must be able to transform knowledge gained through social interaction into something meaningful to themselves. Central to constructivism is its conception of learning. Von Glasersfeld (1995) argues that: "From the constructivist perspective, learning is not a stimulus-response phenomenon. It requires self-regulation and the building of conceptual structures through reflection and abstraction" (p.14). Fosnot (1996) adds that "Rather than behaviours or skills as the goal of instruction, concept development and deep understanding are the foci (...) (p. 10). Research suggests that students who are more actively engaged in the learning experience will be more responsible for their education and will be have a sense of ownership over it. “Technology can offer ways for students to establish personal and intellectual ownership of new concepts while they visualize and interact with abstract ideas” (Ferdig & Trammell, 2004). Students can formulate introspective analysis on materials presented and can personalize the knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them.

Problem Based Learning


For at least 100 years, educators such as John Dewey have stated the benefits of experiential, hands-on, student-directed learning (BIE, 2002). Problem-based learning, the term we know it as today, began at McMaster University Medical School (Canada) over 25 years ago.

What is Problem-based Learning? Problem-based learning is a total approach to education; a learner-centered educational method. It is based on real-world problems. Students are involved in active learning; the problems are real-world and are seen as important and relevant to their lives. These problems are carefully designed and selected for the learner to help build critical knowledge, problem solving skills, self-directed learning strategies and teamwork skills. The learners encounter a problem that they must solve. They solve these problems first with information that they already possess and then they will need to fill in what they don’t already know. Learners may turn to information resources such as books, journals, information found online, and interviews with experts. They will have to identify what they need to learn to understand the problem and how they are going to resolve it. Problem-based Learning prepares students to think critically and analytically. It also teaches students to find and use appropriate learning resources.

What is the Role of the teacher? The teacher has a unique role in Problem-based Learning; they act as a facilitator, coach and/or tutor. The teacher helps to guide the students in their problem solving efforts by providing materials, guidance and evaluation. The teacher is the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage in Problem-based learning.

What is the Role of the Student? The students assume responsibility for their own learning. This gives them ownership of their learning and also fosters motivation to learn and feelings of accomplishment. This helps to promote independent learners who will continue to be lifelong learners. The student will usually work in learning groups with five to seven members. These group members will work together to solve the problems and learn. They, along the way, will gain collaborative or team learning skills. After they have solved the problem they should assess themselves and their peers.

What type of problems are best? Real-world, complex problem act as a motivation or stimulus for learning. A good problem is one that is ill-structured, messy and complex in nature; requires inquiry, information-gathering, and reflection; is changing and tentative; and has no simple, fixed, formulaic, "right" solution (Finkle & Torp, 1995). These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning. These problems are also designed to challenge learners to develop effective problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Active Learning

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is just what one might guess, a method of education where students are actively participating in their own learning. Students are not passive in the classroom listening to lectures all of the time, but are reading, writing, discussing, or otherwise engaging themselves in solving problems (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, p.1). To be fully active in their own learning, students must be using higher-order thinking skills, including the three highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Thus, active learning activities require students to actively participate, and most importantly to think (Bonwell, et. al., 1991, p.1).


Active learning has been a strategy in education for as long as man has been around. Long ago, hunters and gatherers used a watch and imitate strategy to teach their young to survive. In his time, Socrates used what we now call the Socratic Method to get students to interact and discuss a problem to help them discover a solution. More recently, many different philosophers have supported active learning. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and David Kolb all argue that experiences, whether it be Rousseau’s sensory, Dewey’s practical, or Kolb’s concrete experiences, are an essential part of learning. (Lorenzen, 2001, p.2)

What is the Role of the teacher?

Much like in problem-based learning, the teacher is no longer an authoritarian responsible for lecturing 100% of the time. In active learning, the teacher is responsible for facilitating experiences that will allow students to participate in their own learning and discover new information (Lorenzen, 2001, p.1) on their own and with their classmates.

What is the Role of the Student?

The active learning approach to education is built around allowing students to master ideas while developing strong thinking skills. In order for this to happen, students must be active participants in lessons and activities. They must be able to follow directions and take initiative during each lesson in order to learn and develop their thinking skills.

What are some examples of active learning techniques?

(Lorenzen, 2001, p. 10)
(McAndrews, 1991, p. 40)

Inquiry Learning

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to learning that involves exploration and discovery. Inquiry encourages students to ask questions, test hypotheses, and make conclusions all in search for new understandings. This approach is similar to problem-based learning. Instead of children listening to a teacher and repeating back information, they are actively involved in the learning process. Inquiry is driven by a students curoisity and interest. (National Science Foundation, 2000).

Inquiry is defined as:

This definition provides a broad understanding of the inquiry process. Students can not simply sit in class and absorb information, they need to be involved in activities that help them to build understanding. Inquiry learning stresses skills development. Students learn from their experiences and from asking questions. It is an open-ended and ongoing learning process that does not concentrate upon closure or on some important process, fact, principle, or law. “Inquiry means that teachers design situations so that pupils are caused to employ procedures research scientists use to recognize problems, to ask questions, to apply investigational procedures, and to provide consistent descriptions, predictions, and explanations which are compatible with shared experience of the physical world' (Dettrick, n.d. ¶.1).

Using Technology Tools in New Ways

E books – electronic books


Digital Story Telling


Virtual Supervision for Teacher Evaluation



Recording voices and movements has long been a tool of educators. Today you can record in many different ways very easily and share with a wide audience. One of the ways to record is through podcasting. A podcast is simply a voice recording that is in an MP3 format so that it can be downloaded on to an iPod or MP3 player. It can also be displayed in a webpage or blog and listened to on your computer. You could even link it in a Power Point or simply have an icon on your desktop for students to click and listen.

Click here for resources to start your own podcast! [1]

RSS Feeds


Making PowerPoint a Multimedia Tool

The Microsoft program PowerPoint is ubiquitous today. Almost any meeting you go to, whether you are a teacher, doctor, or lawyer the presenter will be using PowerPoint to display the presentation. But have you thought of using PowerPoint as more than a presentation tool in your classroom? PowerPoint has many features that are not often used that can make it an interactive, multimedia experience. As DenBeste notes, with careful planning “PowerPoint can move beyond its static presentation by a ‘sage on the stage’ and lead to opportunities for discussion and consideration of visual sources” (2003, p. 492).


Most Power Point presentations go in a straight line. Click to get to the next slide. However, it is very easy to insert an element of choice into the presentation through “action buttons.” This tool can make presentations more interactive as teachers and students explore the presentation together, choosing the next learning objective as fits the discussion. Teachers can also design interactive presentations that students can complete independently. This option is an excellent way to introduce K-2 students to the art of using hyperlinks to explore a webpage without the worry of unleashing young students on the Internet. Hyperlinks can also be used to link to an Internet site. This option allows for many educational opportunities. The presentation can link to further information, pictures, games for practice, etc.

For an example of a non-linear presentation with hyperlinks see the power point presentation Archaeology in this wiki. (

Make it happen:

Add an action button

1. Under Auto Shapes on the drawing toolbar choose an Action Button

2. Insert the Button into your slide

3. An Action Settings dialog box will appear

4. Use the Hyperlink pull down menu to link to any slide in the presentation or a url

Link an already existing clip art or word

1. Highlight the clip art or text

2. Under the Slide Show menu choose Action Settings

3. Use the Hyperlink pull down menu to link to any slide in the presentation or a url


One of the most powerful tools available in PowerPoint is the option to include video and sound files. By including multiple types of media, teachers can increase student interest in the presentation while helping students to discover new ways of viewing and processing information. As Grabe and Grabe note, “Multimedia presentation allow students more diverse experiences that may be more motivating or present information in ways that are more informative” (2007, p. 167). Additionally, this is an excellent way to differentiate instruction to meet the varied learning needs of students.

Make it happen:

Please note: It is important to include all video and sound files when copying the presentation to another media such as a CD or disk. This will ensure that the presentation will be able to access these multimedia files.


1. Save a video file to your computer

2. From the Insert menu select Movies and Sounds

3. Select Movie from File

4. Browse for the saved video file, insert

5. Choose whether the movie will play automatically or on click


1. Save a sound file to your computer

2. From the Insert menu select Movies and Sounds

3. Select Sound from File

4. Browse for the saved audio file, Insert

5. Choose whether the sound will play automatically or on click


Looking for a new way to transmit information? Why not make a commercial using Power Point? Design your presentation with quick, easily readable statements/instructions and graphics like a commercial. Follow the directions below to play the presentation continuously, sit back and watch your students enjoy and learn.

Make it happen:

1. Under Slide Transition choose Advance Slides Automatically

2. Apply to all slides

3. On the Slide Show menu choose Set Up Show

4. Select Loop Continuously Until Esc

Photo Essay

PowerPoint can be a great way to reach visual learners. Design a lecture for visual learners based on pertinent pictures. Or have students design a photo essay by taking pictures related to a specific subject and stringing them together. For example, students can take pictures of the angles that can be found all around the school or outside. Lastly, you can use pictures of your students to make a fun and touching slideshow.

Make it happen:

1. Save picture files to your computer

2. From the Insert menu select Picture From File

3. Resize picture to take up the entire slide

Technology Integrated Lesson Plans

The links below are activities that use technology as tools to enhance meaningful learning in the classroom

Art Lessons

These lesson plans have been used at different levels in the art curriculum. All can be adjusted to suit a particular grade level.

Mini Masterpieces SOLs listed for grades 5,8, and Art I. Students are divided into three groups: before, during, and after computer use.

Tessellations This lesson is written for middle school students but can be used with fifth graders as well. Students create a tessellation on the computer to reproduce as a two dimensional work of art.

Watercolor Landscape and Haiku Fourth grade students painted a fall landscape and wrote a haiku to expain the feeling autumn promotes in them. One class period was spent in the computer lab typing the haiku. This form of visual literacy can be added to any art project.

Alphabet Book Fifth grade students created alphabet books for the kindergarten classes. Their tasks were to create a collage and a word page for the letters of the alphabet. One class period was spent in the lab typing their words and saving the pages for printing at a later time.

Useful Resources

Meaningful Learning Activities

Computers as Mindtools for Engaging Learners in Critical Thinking

Enriching Student Minds: Meaningful Learning Experiences through Technology-Rich Information Inquiry

Meaningful, Engaged Learning

Using the New Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Meaningful Learning Assessments


Baenen, J. (2006, October). Exploring the 'cusp culture' helps adolescents navigate the way to adulthood. Retrieved November 26, 2006, from National Middle School Association Web site:

Boeree, G. (2006). B.F. Skinner. Retrieved on September 17, 2006 from

Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. George Washington University, Washington DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED340272)

Buck Institute for Learning. (2002). Problem based learning handbook. Retrieved October 29, 2006 from:

Carbonell, L. (2004). Behaviorism. What kind of questions do the behaviorists ask? Why? Retrieved on September 17, 2006 from

DenBeste, M. (2003). PowerPoint, technology and the web: More than just an overhead projector for the new century? The History Teacher, 36 (4). Retrieved from Wilson Web on November 17, 2006.

Dettrick, G. (n.d.) Constructivist teaching strategies. Retreived October 11, 2006 from:

Ferdig,R. & Trammell, K. (February, 2004). Content delivery in the blogosphere. T H E Journal, 31, p12 (4). Retrieved September 18, 2006 from Computer Database via Thompson Gale.

Finkle, S.L., & Torp, L.L. (1995). Introductory Documents. (Available from the Center for Problem-Based Learning, Illinois Math and Science Academy, 1500 West Sullivan Road, Aurora, IL 60506-1000.)

Fosnot, C. (1996). Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. In C. Fosnot (Ed.) Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice, (pp.8-33). New York: Teachers College Press.

Funderstanding. (2001). Behaviorism. Retrieved on September 17, 2006 from

Grabe, M., & Grabe, C. (2007). Integrating technology for meaningful learning. (5th ed.), New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company

Hill, W.F. (1990) Learning: A survey of psychological interpretations (5th Ed) NY: Harper & Row, Publishers Inc. Retrieved on September 30, 2006.from

Inquiry. (n.d.). unabridged (v 1.0.1). Retrieved September 29, 2006, from

Jackson, L. (2005). Computers in the high school classroom. Retrieved November 20, 2006, from

Jones, B., Valdez, G., Nowakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved September 18, 2006, from

Johnson, D. (2000). Teacher web pages that build parent partnerships. Multimedia Schools. 7(4) pp. 48-51. Retrieved from Wilson Web on November 12, 2006

Jonassen, D., Howland, J., Moore, J. and Marra, R. (2003). Learning to solve problems with technology: A constructivist perspective. (2nd ed.), Upper Saddle Rive, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall

Jonassen, D. (2000). Computers as mindtools for schools. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc..

Knapp, M. S. & Associates. (1995). Teaching for meaning in high-poverty classrooms. New York: Teachers College.

Kundu, R. and Bain, C. (2006). Webquests: Utilizing technology in a constructivist manner to facilitate meaningful preservice learning. Art Education. 59(2) pp. 6-11. Retrieved from Wilson Web on November 24, 2006.

Lorenzen, M. (2001). Active learning and library instruction. Retrieved on November 25, 2006 from

Magliaro,S., Lockee,B., and Burton, J. (2005). Direct instruction revisited: A key model for instructional technology. Educational Technology Reasearch and Development 53 no441-55.

Maricopa center for learning & instruction (2001). Problem-based learning. Retrieved October 26, 2006 from:

McAndrews, L.J. (1991). Tearing down the wall: Adventures in active learning. The History Teacher, 25 (1), pp. 35-43. Retrieved from JESTOR on November 25, 2006.

Means, B. (1997). Critical issue: Using technology to enhance engaged learning for at-risk students. Retrieved from

National Science Foundation: Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education (2000) An introduction to inquiry in: Inquiry thoughts, views, and strategies for the K-5 classroom. Retrieved October 11, 2006 from:

National Science Resource Center. (2002). The NSRC's impact on student achievement. Retrieved from

Pritchard, G. (Ed.). (2002). Improving learning with information technology. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Samford University (2006) Problem-based learning. Retrieved October 26, 2006 from:

Scheepers, D. (2000) Learning Theories: Behaviorism. Retrieved from September 20, 2006 on

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. (1999) Problem-based learning initiative. Retrieved November 3, 2006 from:

Tileston, D. (2004). What every teacher should know about media and technology . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Torp, L. and Sage, S. (2002) Problems as possibilities: Problem-based learning for K–16 education. (2nd Ed).(pp. 15–16), Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

von Glasersfeld, E. (1995). A constructivist approach to teaching. In L. Steffe & J. Gale (Eds.). (1995). Constructivism in education, (pp.3-16). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in society. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press

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Zumbach, J., Kumpg, D., & Koch, S.C. (2004). Using multimedia to enhance problem-based learning in elementary school. Information Technology in Childhood Education. pp. 25-37. Retrieved on November 1, 2006 from the Wilson Web database.

Original source for this page from

Information Literacy

Information Literacy


Technology Information Literacy

Technology information literacy means that you should be able to access, evaluate, organize, manipulate, and present information all while utilizing the appropriate technology tools (Humes, 2004). In other words, merely finding information is not enough as students should be able to evaluate and validate information and be able to determine the reliability of the information found.

Importance of Technology Information Literacy for K12 Teachers

How it can be incorporated

Technology information is essential in today's classroom to prepare students for life after secondary school. Technology, as we know it, has been available to teachers in the classroom since 1963 when it was introduced by Stanford Professor Patrick Suppes (DeVillar & Faltis, 1991) and Richard Atkinson developed a program on computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in mathematics and reading. The program they developed allowed students to be individually instructed at their own pace and provided rapid feedback to the user. This concept was ahead of its time and the concept of computers in the classroom was still foreign to the vast majority of teachers. Technology has evolved and changed drastically since those earlier days, but there is still a fight to integrate technology appropriate and effectively into the curriculum and make it relevant for the students and easy to use for the teachers.

Computer Assisted Technology (CAT) has been used in the classroom for many years, as well as programs initiated by specific computer companies such as Apple, Inc. Apple created a program in the 1980s that provided for the introduction of technology into the classroom with a program called ACOT (Apple Computers of Tomorrow), whose objective was to get a computer in every classroom for every student. There were many pitfalls, but much information on how to integrate technology was also discovered in this study (Sandholtz, Ringstaff & Dwyer, 1997). Apple provided the following snippet of the ACOT program, which is no longer available on their site:

The ACOT research project concluded in 1998. After more than a decade of research, the ACOT project was one of the longest continuing educational studies of its kind.

During the 13 years of research, ACOT studied learning, assessment, teaching, teacher development, school design, the social aspects of education, and the use of new technologies in more than 100 elementary and secondary classrooms throughout the country. ACOT also collaborated with schools internationally to explore constructivism mediated by technology, emphasizing collaboration over the Internet. After more than a decade of research, the ACOT project was one of the longest continuing educational studies of its kind.

ACOT’s research demonstrated that the introduction of technology into classrooms can significantly increase the potential for learning, especially when it is used to support collaboration, information access, and the expression and representation of students’ thoughts and ideas.

Realizing this opportunity for all students, however, required a broadly conceived approach to educational change that integrated new technologies and curricula with new ideas about learning and teaching, as well as with authentic forms of assessment.

ACOT’s mission was to advance the understanding of teaching and learning in global, connected communities of educators and learners. This included investigating how teaching and learning change when people have immediate access to technology as well as helping people better understand how technology can be an effective learning tool and a catalyst for change.

Apple continues to work on the concept they started back in the 80s and you can read more about ACOT in its current incarnation here:

Other options in the classroom would be the use of wireless networks, electronic portfolios, portable technologies (such as MP3 players, etc.), virtual field trips and projects, Smartboards, as well as more basic technologies like a data projector or document camera or even an overhead projector.

Educational software exists for every subject and at every grade level. Whether it's preschool children using Starfall to help learn ABCs or early reading strategies or high school students using presentation software to provide the visual aid for a speech on the Civil War, computers and computer-related software can enhance the typical classroom and provide students and teachers with an additional arsenal of tools to supplement and enrich the educational and learning process.


As the technology in information literacy progresses, so must the knowledge educators have in order to implement them in K-12 schools. The promises for the future of education brought to us by the evolving technology demand it. “In order to create a learner-centered environment in which students can take full advantage of information infrastructures, it is vital that educators augment the traditional curriculum with collaborative, learning-through-doing activities based on linked, online materials and orchestrated across classrooms, workplaces, homes, and community settings” (Plotnick, 2000) .

Taking students through virtual exhibits, on virtual field trips, developing virtual cooperative communities where each student has a part to play, and involving busy parents through virtual parent/teacher conferences are just some of the promises for communal collaboration. Others are cutting down on the use of paper by using e-textbooks, corresponding with experts and authentic sources to create knowledge webs, teleconferencing, telementoring, teleapprenticeships, and peer tutoring. All of these promising means of using technology depend on K-12 educators being information literate in the new technology. “Our ability to be information literate depends on our willingness to be lifelong learners as we are challenged to master new technologies that will forever alter the landscape of information” (Plotnick, 2000).


There are many pitfalls to technology literacy. One major pitfall is the lack of professional development and support from the administration. Many school systems are pushing for the use of technology but the “ongoing faculty development is not available” (Wizer & McPherson, 2005, p. 17). Although the lack of support from administrators is “often unintentional,” teachers do not feel that the support is maintained throughout the school year (Wizer & McPherson, 2005, p. 17). Without support and professional development, teachers are less likely to incorporate technology into their classrooms.

Another major pitfall is “inadequate preparation of other teachers to teach about technology” (Young, Cole, & Denton, 2006). The teachers who teach technology classes are well prepared to teach students technology literacy, but the other teachers are not. Colleges are spending “virtually no time developing technological literacy in students who will eventually stand in front of the classroom” (Young, Cole, & Denton , 2006). If all curriculum teachers would integrate technology into their classroom, students would have a better idea of technology literacy. If preservice educators are not receiving instruction on developing technology literacy skills and they are not seeing these skills modeled by their instructors then this does not bode well for their future students.

Perhaps the most overlooked obstacle for teaching information literacy come from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), commonly known as NCLB. This is a United States federal law that was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001 and signed on January 8, 2002, that reauthorized a number of federal programs aiming to improve the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools. Additionally, it promoted an increased focus on reading and re-authorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB is one piece of federal legislation (another was Goals 2000) enacting the theories of standards-based education reform, formerly known as outcome-based education, which is based on the belief that high expectations and setting of goals will result in success for all students.

Much debate exists as to whether NCLB is effective or not and this particular article is not focused on this debate. But one disadvantage with regard to information literacy is that NCLB has no emphasis on information literacy skills. Thus, the required state standardized tests that are administered in all public schools to test for adequate yearly progress (AYP) are catered to specific skills in reading, math, and science. There are no information literacy questions and that means that schools are not encouraged to teach these skills, while instead focusing on the information that is likely to be tested on the various state versions of the NCLB standardized test. Information literacy is not the only subject that is deemphasized by NCLB as social studies, physical education, the arts, and foreign languages are also not covered by the NCLB standardized testing. This leaves more responsibility to individual teachers to try and integrate information literacy into other subjects. President Obama has shifted focus to a new STEM initiative. This is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Technology is now receiving attention, but this has yet to carry over to standardized testing.

Importance of Technology Information Literacy for K12 Students

What is technology? Is it the latest computer, the newest cell phone, the most vivid Game Boy? Yes, but technology also refers to advances in agriculture, medicine, and transportation, etc. In short, technology is a human creation to enhance our abilities, extend our lives, or attain our wants and needs. Humans have become increasingly dependent on technology since the first chipped-edged flint tool was created 1.5 million years ago (Dugger, 2001). Today’s technology is evolving at an astounding rate, and includes not only new technologies, but also the improvement of old technologies. Increasingly, people are finding it important for to be aware of, to understand, and to be comfortable with the operation of the technology that surrounds us while also learning how to adapt to new and evolving technologies that can be of benefit. As a result, there is an insistent call for technology education to be an integral part of the K-12 curriculum, so that students will be prepared to function responsibly in a technology-laden world. The goal is to provide all students with technology literacy, which will guide them in the understanding, responsible use, and management of technology, even as it changes throughout their lives. There are some key factors to consider when implementing a technology education program and these factors are going to be discussed in more detail. The factors are: the students’ abilities at different ages, selection of material and methods for teaching, and application of learning in real world situations.

Student abilities

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a professional organization that seeks to provide leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in Pre-K through 12th grade and on into teacher education. More than 85,000 individuals are part of the ISTE organization. A big part of the ISTE mission is to provide the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). They actually produce a set of NETS for teachers and future teachers (like you) and a set of NETS for K-12 students. In 2007, ISTE released the new revised NETS for students. These standards address what students should be learning at various points through their K-12 education. For example, the NETS-S cover domains like creativity and innovation as well as communication and collaboration. Another domain addresses digital citizenship. Each domain described also has subpoints that also need to be addressed by schools and teachers as they prepare students for their lives beyond their K-12 education. The subpoints provide a more detailed example of how the domain objectives are met. For example, the domain "Research and Information Fluency" the following description with 4 subpoints:

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:

  • a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.
  • b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources
    and media.
  • c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
  • d. process data and report results.

While these standards were released in the middle of 2007, ISTE should eventually release supplementary materials that will spell out how to better meet these various domain objectives at each grade level. For example, the previous domain standards had the following description for teachers to use when trying to determine age appropriate and grade appropriate technology skills:

Prior to completion of Grade 8, students will:

1. Apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems that occur during everyday use. (1)
2. Demonstrate knowledge of current changes in information technologies and the effect those changes have on the workplace and society. (2) 3. Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors when using information and technology, and discuss consequences of misuse. (2)
4. Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research. (3, 5)

Each of the standards are broken down into grade appropriate skills and objectives. If every teacher took the time to ensure that his or her students could meet the objectives spelled out on the NETS-S then all students would have gained the basic level of technology skills to help prepare them for the life beyond their K-12 environments. Meeting these grade appropriate benchmarks helps to ensure that all children are being prepared nearly equally with regard to technology.

Curriculum content and pedagogy

The decision to integrate technology into classrooms is now recognized as a worthwhile goal in education as most states now include such a goal in their educational standards for schools. As such, the attention now focuses on how best to accomplish this goal and looking closely at how educators need to teach to students and how the content/objectives might best be taught. Many educators and education observers now place an emphasis on helping students to achieve higher level or critical thinking skills. Students are expected to utilize their critical thinking skills (Plotnick, 1999) to solve problems in a technologically-based environment. For example, students might be required to use technology to solve a problem that is based on a teacher generated scenario (plan a trip to Italy and include a budget). These kinds of projects are not easily assessed by using a multiple choice tests. Instead, students must utilize skills that they have learned that clearly demonstrate technological competency. By performing these tasks students are taught how to use technology to accomplish a goal even when the objective of the project was not technology based. The technology becomes a tool to accomplish the task just as technology is being used every day by people in real jobs (e.g., a travel agent, a nurse, an insurance salesman, a stock broker).

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) developed standards for student learning that are not too unlike the ISTE standards mentioned ealier (NETS-S). The AASL places an emphasis on information literacy. In fact, Murray (2005) explains this emphasis by stating that “the student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively, evaluates information critically and competently, and uses information accurately and creatively.” The goals of technology information literacy are to promote lifelong learning among students, utilize critical thinking skills, and promote problem-solving skills (Plotnick, 1999). Information literacy is being recognized by many education organizations and professionals as something that should be taught in schools; now it's just a matter of getting it into the classroom teacher's repertoire.

Application of skills in the future

Technology is already ubiquitous (read: existing everywhere) in our culture, as Patricia Horn points out when she writes that "you cannot get a hamburger, buy groceries, or even sign for a package without being faced with technology" (2005). In the future, technology will be even more ubiquitous, requiring everyone from the minimum-wage worker to the stay-at-home mother to the government employee to be comfortable with its many uses.

In the future, students will use technology to be informed citizens if they aren't doing so already. They will ask, access, analyze, apply, and assess information via the Internet (Jukes, Dosaj & Macdonald, 2000, p. 11) that will help them be active participants in our democratic society. When students get to be of voting age, technology will provide them with access to the political process and to issues being debated and legislated. In fact, 2007 was the year when individuals started placing video clips on the popular Youtube site to pose questions to U.S. Presidential candidates. Nearly every politician now has a website where positions on issues are defined and where individuals can gain important information for making a more informed decision in the political process.

The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the Internet played a major role. A Pew study explained that during the 2004 campaign, "37% of the adult population and 61% of online Americans used the Internet to get political news and information, discuss candidates and debate issues in e-mails, or participate directly in the political process by volunteering or giving contributions to candidates" (Crowe, 2006). In the future, the role of the Internet in the political process will certainly expand as politicians recognize its power.

We already live in a largely wireless world -- we have access to the Internet from coffee shops, truck stops, our homes, and even some entire cities. In the future, wireless technology will be even more widely available, creating even more opportunities for collaboration. In this wireless environment of the future workplace, today's students "will be expected to have the basic skills in the areas of multitasking, collaboration, researching, synthesizing, and presenting" (Ketterer, 2005). An example of collaboration via the Internet are Internet-based word-processing programs that allow multiple authors to work on a document at the same time from different computers. The authors of "Ubiquitous Computing in a Web 2.0 World," for instance, worked on the article simultaneously at distances more than 100 miles apart using a Web-based word processor called Google Docs.

In conclusion, it is clear that technology will pervade all aspects of daily life in the future. Perhaps you are even in a class that is using an internet-based textbook (heh). Teachers must equip students with the "5 As" (the ability to ask, access, analyze, apply and assess information) if they are to become productive workers and informed citizens.

Responsibility of Technology Use As Educators

Society is heavily dependent upon technology as was noted earlier in this article. This reliance is going to increase as electronic means are created to gather information (Ham, 1997), which is now ubuntantly clear with search engines like Google and Bing. Thus, students need to be equipped with the technological skills to succeed in this technology-laden society and that responsibility falls largely to teachers. Even teachers who are not teaching technology literacy skills directly as part of the curriculum can still be modeling the use of the skills daily.

Many educators feel the need to extend their knowledge of technology but do not have the necessary tools or the incentive to do so. Lesson plans need to be formatted differently, even the way that we go about getting the content for our lesson plans needs to be different when teaching with technology (Wepner & Liqing, 2002). The responsibility shifts, from the school-mandated programs to teach students technology literacy, and falls on the teacher's shoulders.

When going through the reformat stage of your future lesson plans, keep in mind that you are not changing the idea of teaching your students the curriculum you are charged to teach; rather, you are just incorporating a different approach and an embedded curriculum. We have a responsibility to design a detailed instructional plan that includes objectives, procedures, grouping strategies and assessment techniques (Mwanza & Engestrom, 2005) and technology can certainly supplement and enhance this goal. For example, in the past a teacher might have had a required textbook that is followed to help shape the curriculum. No textbook was every perfect and rarely did a textbook meet all of the needs of the teacher. As technology becomes more ubiquitous there are teachers who are dropping their textbooks and using internet-based resources to better meet their specific curricular needs.

Standards for students have been created by national organizations to indicate what students should know about and be able to do with technology (see previous NETS-S discussion). These indicators should help us in formulating our lesson plans. While creating our lessons filled with technology literacy skills, it is important to keep regular curricular goals prominent as that's the key learning objecive (Bennett, 2005). Hopefully state and national standardized tests soon recognize the importance of technology literacy skills by including these items on the various state assessments. This move would instantly make teaching technology literacy skills an item of interest for all teachers. But even in the absence of being a focus on standardized tests, the fact of the matter is that technology is already a focus in our society and ignoring technology skills and literacies only serves to be a disadvantage to the students being served.

Evaluating Internet Resources

As schools move towards having students and teachers use and integrate more technology, this same technology is now providing access to more and more information, particularly online. Students and teachers need to evaluate websites to determine safety and security of the websites, to determine whether they fall under the acceptable use policy of the school and to ensure that all information is accurate and valid. This kind of check and the skills to evaluate content are becoming mandatory for all students as well as teachers who use the internet to acquire new information.

According to Frank Westcott (2005) “[t]here are many intentionally misleading Web sites. Your students need to know that they exist and how to recognize them.” If students are not given the tools to determine if information is misleading they will become vessels full of incomplete and incorrect information. In his article “Intentionally Misleading Web Sites,” Westcott gives multiple examples of misinformation or intentionally misleading websites that students may find when doing their research without looking further into the source or validity of the information. He mentions a website entitled “True Historical Examination”,, that may seem like a valid site but he states that it is hosted by a white supremacy group. Does being hosted by a white supremacy group lead one to believe it is a valid website to give a "true" historical examination of Martin Luther King Jr.? Westcott also mentions a site about the Civil War stating that the Confederate Army invented “balloon-fired guided missiles,” which many adults would know is not true, but a student may not be able to determine if the information is valid or not, unless they have been trained to look for signs of valid information.

Students need to be given the tools to determine website validity and reliability as well as how to search for those reliable sites. Without the training and information that teachers have to determine website reliability students will not have the ability in the future to use technology to their advantage but will find themselves drowning and will become “informationally oblivious” (Jukes, Dosaj, and MacDonald, 2000, p.7).

Reliability and validity with regard to the Internet:

  • Reliability is generally meant to describe a website that is consistent in what it presents. If you read a website and have your students read the same material then everyone should come away with the same information from a reliable website. An unreliable website might have information that is murky and open for various interpretations by different audiences.
  • Validity refers to how well the website covers the material is claims to address. If you can trust the information being presented on a website then the website is thought to be valid. If you cannot verify the information or trust the information then the website is not considered valid. Determining validity typically requires the reader to look at who owns the website; who wrote the website (author credentials); the age of the information/website, etc.

Teachers need to inform students on the steps necessary to find accurate information when conducting research using the Internet. Many students will click on Google, type in their search terms and decide that the first site that they come to is the one that they will use for their primary source. Teachers need to inform students of the accuracy and safety of information on the internet so that they have the tools to do research, the tools to use technology that is available to them, and the tools to change their search tactics if their current processes do not work. Students of the 21st century may be born with an iPod in their hand but they still need to be taught the processes and procedures for safe and accurate research, whether using the Internet or an older card catalog.

Communication tends to have a cascading effect, thus, information that comes from a teacher to their student will be judged as credible and taken as fact without question. If the information that we are communicating to our students comes from a textbook, journal or other hard database, the information is subject to hard scrutiny by numerous objective sources (Gorski, 1999). As a teacher, we cannot rely upon a publication company to review the authenticity of information posted anywhere online. Virtually anyone with access to the Internet can post anything they desire, and there is currently not an entity such as a publishing company that exists for the Internet (Gorski, 1999).

There are numerous tips out there for teachers to try when evaluating websites. Typically, school systems have a method of evaluation. If this is the case, that would be a great starting point. To make the evaluations even better and less general, make it specific to your class and to your standards. This is highly important as the material will likely be translated to your methodology of teaching (Barker, 2005). Joe Barker, of UC Berkeley, has outlined skillful evaluation techniques from training your eye to catch certain letters in the URL to training your mind to think critically, even suspiciously, of information posted (Barker, 2005).

As teachers, we sometimes begin researching our lesson by using a search engine. Barker suggests that before we even click on a URL from the results page, first we must scrutinize where it is coming from. Even though the results page typically only lists the URL and keywords, you can train your eye to detail. If the URL has a personal name such as jbarker or barker following a title, it is probably a personal page (Barker, 2005). Barker states that personal pages are not necessarily bad, this just means that you need to pay particular attention to the authentication of information provided on their site (Barker, 2005).

Another way to train your eye before clicking on a result is to look at the domain. Determining whether the URL ends in a .gov, .mil, .museum, or even an .edu will determine what level of scrutiny to apply to the content. These sites are typically revised regularly and reviewed by more than one person to verify content (Barker, 2005). However, there are some sites out there that have a credible ending to their URL that are not credible (e.g., a highly partisan college professor could have a URL site that ends in .edu but the information on his/her page might be quite biased). Regardless of the domain name or URL, a rigorous examination at a high or minimal level still needs to occur.

We know that the truth is out there, unfortunately, so is the lie (Gorski, 1999). We need to be able to discern between the two, and teach our students to do the same. You will find in the following sections different sites where you will be given accurate information for educators, students and parents. These sites have been evaluated and/or used by many teachers, both current and past, that have reviewed them and found them to be helpful to them and their students. Websites do have a tendency to change and evolve and it is our job to determine if the website we visit is safe and accurate, but you will find that the majority of the websites recommended here are both accurate and safe. Realize that the websites are not being endorsed by any of the writers here, but are merely suggestions for you to begin your search for recommended educational websites.

Elementary School Level

A. Teacher Resources

When teachers are choosing text resources from the Internet to use in the elementary classroom, they must first evaluate the curricular aspects of the web sites. The site must contain appropriate content, the information must be presented on the appropriate level, the resource must fit with curriculum objectives, and must be able to be integrated within the existing classroom management scheme. The article, “How to…Evaluate Web Resources,” offers specific guidelines to help teachers evaluate the curricular aspects of a web resource (Lindroth, 1999). After that evaluation is complete, teachers must still assess the accuracy of the site’s information. A number of rubrics for teacher web site evaluation are available on the Internet, but most focus on the same criteria: the author, date of publication or last update, source of information, and possible bias. A very thorough, easy to use rubric can be found at:

There are numerous interactive websites that teachers can utilize for the classroom, even at the elementary level, that are beneficial. An example of an interactive site is united streaming and can be found at: It provides short clips of educational material for students as well as teachers. For example, a second grade class could access the united streaming video on clouds that correlates with a science unit about weather. A follow-up activity for the students to complete on the computer is provided by unitedstreaming that is then based on the video. "As a teacher, you should always look at any sites you want your students to see before they do. This is especially crucial for younger students who will be unable to critically assess these sites and frequently accept everything they see or hear on a website as the truth" (Yahooligans, 2002).

B. Student Resources

Elementary school is a prime opportunity to begin teaching students how to evaluate text resources on the web. It is important to encourage students not to believe everything they read, especially with more user-created resources like Wikipedia becoming popular research tools. Studies suggest that elementary age children are able to identify inconsistencies and falsehoods if they are told to look for them in a particular resource, though they might not recognize them without prompting (Fitzgerald, 1999). At this age, it is often beneficial to limit the number of resources available to students, to avoid information overwhelm. The teacher can either give students specific URLs, or collaborate with school librarians and Instructional Technology Resource Teachers (ITRTs) to create a limited database to be searched (Beck, 1997). Within these limited resources, the teacher can include both quality web sites and intentionally misleading ones so students learn to identify the differences. With this closed-ended mixture of good and bad resources, students are encouraged to develop “deep reading skills” that would possibly fall by the wayside if they had to sift through the entire pool of web resources (Dempsey, 2003). Once they can distinguish a good site from a bad one, students can begin evaluating the site for specific criteria using a rubric. Examples of rubrics for elementary students can be found at:

Interactive sites are a great way to get students excited about learning. This is the digital age, where most students have access to a computer either at home or at the library. Students get tired and bored with paper worksheets, but have them complete that same sheet on the computer and suddenly it becomes fun to them. A good site for this is a math interactive Web site named eManipulatives and can be found at

Before the teacher allows students to go to these websites, an evaluation of the site should be performed. In an article by Kathy Schrock (The ABC's of Website Evaluation, 2002) she outlines and describes 26 criteria for teachers and students to look for when evaluating a website. She states, "If we strive to teach students the best way to critically evaluate the information that they find in relation to the purpose at hand, we will produce a generation of digitally literate adults who are equipped to learn throughout their lifetimes" (Schrock, 2002). In another article, Teaching Zack to Think (High School Principal Magazine) the author states, "As much time as we spend teaching kids how to find things on the Net, we need to expend 10 times more effort teaching them how to interpret what they've found, " (November, 1998).

Middle School level


Because students start developing higher-level cognitive skills in adolescence, middle school is the perfect time to design tasks that require students to practice evaluation.

Students’ ability to evaluate what they read and see on the Internet is essential for their success in school and for their lives outside of school. However, many middle school students blindly trust the information presented on Web sites. As social studies teacher Larry Lewin points out, “They assume if something is in print, it must be true, accurate, and useful information. Students must be taught to consider such factors as the author's qualifications and experience, the sponsoring organization or institution, the currency and relevance of the information, and cited sources” (Lewin, 1998, p. 50).

Many middle school teachers are frustrated by their students’ lack of interest (or lack of ability) in critically evaluating the Web sites they encounter. Middle school media specialist Jinnie McDonnell expressed this frustration: "My seventh grade info tech students are not driven to find correct answers, lost as they are in the Zen of the Internet experience. They have to be badgered all the way" (Minkel, 2000, p. 49).

In his article, “Burden of Spoof,” Walter Minkel suggests piquing students’ interest in evaluating Web sites by exposing them to some parody sites that could easily be mistaken for “official” sources of information. One of these,, is a spoof on the official White House web site, There are also many science, technology and medical spoof sites out there. A fun one that Dr. Teresa Coffman, professor of instructional technology at the University of Mary Washington, pointed out is the History of the Fisher-Price Airplane,

After examining these and other parody sites with students, middle school teachers should lead a discussion of the following questions: “How can we be sure that what we find in a site is true? When should we look in other sources, like encyclopedias or periodicals, to verify things we read online? Why would people post things on the Internet that aren't true?” (Minkel, 2000, p. 49).

It would also be helpful at this point to provide students with a copy of Kathy Schrock’s guide for critically evaluating Web sites (geared toward Middle School students). It is a good idea for teachers to require students to complete Schrock’s checklist for any sites they use in their research for class assignments. A printer-friendly version of the document is available in Word or PDF form at

In his article, “Intentionally Misleading Web Sites,” Frank Westcott provides some evaluation tips to share with students:

Be wary of Web sites with no author. Be wary of Web sites with a tilde (~) in the URL. The tilde usually indicates that the information provided on that page is separate of from the organization or institution named in the URL. For instance, students’ personal pages on a university Web site often have a tilde in the URL.

Use Google’s “links-to” feature to find out which sites link to the site in question. Sometimes the sites linking to a site will raise a red flag about its bias or credibility.

Use to find out who owns a site. For instance, a quick visit to would show students that is owned by the white supremacy group Stormfront. (Westcott, 2005).

Teachers need to give middle school students the opportunity to practice their evaluative skills. After teaching a unit on Jamestown and the Powhatan tribe (including the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas), social studies teacher Larry Lewin required his students to evaluate the differing versions of the Pocahontas story on the Disney site and on the site for the Powhatan Renape tribe (Lewin, 1998).

Students must learn how to evaluate what they read and see on the Internet if they are going to become critical consumers of the ever-growing amount of information out there.

A. teacher resources

Teachers should incorporate all types of websites into the learning process of students. Students don’t always need all of the bells and whistles on a website in order to learn.

Yahooligans! Teachers’ Guide has some great tips for teachers when assigning a project with which students are to use websites to complete. Check accessibility before assigning that site. That means make a recent check to the site and make sure it is still available don’t assume because you used it last month that it is still working. Also make sure that the information isn’t going to take extensive time to download. Secondly check the accuracy of the information that you are guiding your students to read. Remind students that “anyone with a computer and Internet access can publish a Web page can promote their point of view”. (Westcott, 2005,p.1)Thirdly you need to check the appropriateness of the website. Does the site contain age- appropriate material, is the reading level appropriate, and does it cover the information you need? Lastly, is it an appealing site? “By appealing we mean that a site is basically put together well and easy to follow. Just as a site with broken links is frustrating, so is a site that is hard to read. Students (and possibly teachers!) are going to have a hard time staying focused if they’re spending huge amounts of time struggling to read a site with a dark background and black text, font styles that are too hard to follow, or miniscule text and pictures.” (Yahooligans, 2002)

INTERACTIVE- sites that contain worksheets, fields that students are to fill in, etc.

In 2008, Google explained that they had already indexed over 1 trillion (yes, TRILLION) unique URLs online, thus the internet is larger than most of us can imagine and it's growing exponentially daily. Finding valuable information that you can use in your teaching or that your students can use to complete an assignment grows increasingly more difficult as more information must be sifted through. Once potential information resources are located, the second step requires additional extensive work conducting a comprehensive review of the accessed material. This step might be circumvented or greatly reduced if the material comes from a trusted site. “Many teachers, for example, have come to rely on the Web suggestions of librarian (now technology director) Kathy Schrock at Instead of wading through hundreds of sites to find a few good social studies or math sites, they trust Kathy to do that for them.” (The Research Cycle, 2000).

B. student resources

How can students be expected to evaluate the usefulness of interactive worksheets and other materials culled from the Internet with which they can practice their lessons’ content? Although students would be able to gauge whether the content is relevant to their needs, they would not be able to judge the accuracy of the content. Though an organization might be cited, familiarity with the organization would be unlikely. Similarly, if an author were listed, students have little knowledge of determining whether the author, assuming he/she is cited, is reputable. Since students are so vulnerable in the first step of merely locating reliable and valid information, a potential solution in this case would be for students not to have to search in unknown sites on their own; though, students in middle school should be learning to use search engines. However, the teacher or school might provide a listing of trustworthy sites. The school might even use a filtering system to ensure that untrusted websites are blocked and that only approved sites are available to students. Unfortunately, this type of censorship will also often lead to valuable information being restricted and unavailable.

One popular online resource is video streaming. Video streaming include websites like Youtube or Teachertube and video streaming is, “the process of viewing video over the Internet” (Ross, 2005, ¶ 3). Teachers can download the video and watch it at the same time, which is called streaming. Teachers merely need a computer connected to the internet and they can show video, but a projector helps greatly. Video can be used to introduce a concept, supplement a lesson, provide a brief related moment of humor, and much more. Students can also view these on an individual basis. “Research has shown that the use of video content leads to more attentive, more knowledgeable, and higher-achieving students” (Ross, 2005, ¶ 4 ). One example of video streaming is DiscoveryEducation. There are thousands of videos available through DiscoveryEducation on every subject and every level. More information on DiscoveryEducation can be found at:

High School level

A. teacher resources

Interactive technology can be a very useful tool for any classroom. There are multiple types of interactive resources teachers can use. One of the most popular resources is games either on the Web or on CD-rom. These systems “can provide many self-directed learning strategies, thus stimulating student’s learning interests and promoting student-centered learning” (Yu, Wang, and Che, 2005, p. 94). Keeping students motivated and interested are two of the main goals of interactive gaming. They “incorporate knowledge, fun competition, cooperation, and virtual reality into learning” (Yu, et. al, 2005, p. 95). Like any website, an evaluation should be done on the online game that is in question to use. Here is a sample rubric for evaluating an online game:

Other types of interactive resources include instant messaging, podcasts, Skype, and even blogging activities. These are all low cost resources. Instant messaging has been found to be “more personal, confidential, and targeted than the public space of a discussion list or chat room” (Abram, 2005). Podcasting allows students to record their own thoughts and ideas. Teachers only need to supply a microphone for students to record. “Skype is for calling other people all over the world—for free—on their computers” (Abram, 2005, ¶ 12). This could be either an add-on or replacement for a pen pal in other countries. Blogging is a form of electronic journal writing, but in a public and potentially interactive manner.

Skype Wikipedia

MULTIMEDIA- sites that contain sound or video files to teach students

Multimedia instruction is an interactive method of teaching and uses text, graphics, video, animation and sound to instill meaningful learning for students (Juhas, 2004, p.1).

Multimedia projects:

  • motivate students to participate.
  • integrate all the language arts -- reading, writing, listening, and speaking across curricular areas.
  • Multimedia projects
  • create real reasons for reading, writing, and revising communication.
  • give students a larger audience than the teacher and the classroom.
  • require students to analyze sources and think about evidence in new ways.
  • lead teachers to think about their students, classes, and lessons in new ways. Reflection and revision of teaching strategies naturally evolve with the projects.
  • require higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. These projects promote non-linear thinking and give divergent learners a chance to shine in the classroom.
  • move teachers from the role of lecturer and classroom authority and into the role of learning coach or facilitator. They create student-centered classrooms.
  • increase students' literacy and prepares them for the technology-based communication skills required in the workplace today and tomorrow.
  • let teachers address multiple intelligences and learning styles in the classroom.
  • naturally employ the range of resources and approaches by which most students learn best (Cherry, 2002)

B. student resources

High school students are in a tremendously advantageous position when it comes to conducting research. There is a plethora of websites that contain interactive games, simulations and overall informative topics. However, this is not always good. Many students today are required to complete an interactive website as a class project. People researching a topic may not realize that the website they are looking at earned a 65% from an 11th grade History class. This is echoed by Hope Tillman, “…within the morass of networked data are both valuable nuggets and an incredible amount of junk” (Tillman, 2003). Students will often neglect printed material and look at the Internet first because “web pages must be the correct source because it is the most current and easiest to access form of information" (Kapoun, 1998).

Students need to develop a systematic approach to assessing the proper tools that are necessary for conducting research and then to assess the information that is gained from that search (Tillman, 2003). One great way of evaluating search tools, specifically interactive websites, is by using a rubric. Some are straightforward, such as the group of rubrics found through Cornell University’s library website:

Rubrics for Evaluating Websites

By using the link above, students can determine which evaluation procedure is most suitable for their needs. Depending on the research assignment and their own comfort level in evaluating a website, students can choose the specific evaluation criteria.

Many students are not yet net savvy enough to use a rubric and determine the true effectiveness of a website. The library at the University Libraries of Albany in New York developed an interactive tutorial and criteria for evaluating Internet resources:

One of the newest Internet multimedia resources is Podcasting. This “is an automated technology that allows listeners to subscribe and listen to digitally recorded audio shows" (Flanagan, 2005). The files are downloaded onto an MP3 player or a computer. Students can download everything from a teacher’s lecture to previously recorded audio files on a wide multitude of subjects. David Warlick explains that educators “can share their knowledge, insights, and passions for teaching and learning and for the stories that they relish and teach.” He began a website where teachers and students can download educational Podcasts:

Education Pod Network

Along with Podcasting, many teachers are now recording lectures or lessons with audio and video and placing the instructional file on sites like YouTube.

Choosing Appropriate Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning

What is appropriate?

When choosing to incorporate technology into a lesson, teachers should choose technology that allows “students to be productive, innovative and enterprising” (TEFA Online, 99). Teachers need to be certain that incorporating the technology does not hinder the learning process for the students, but instead leads to a deeper understanding of the topic. Technology should “bolster instruction and help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills” (Brown, 2002, p. 4). To help teachers decide what technology is the best to use, Professor Bell at Michigan State University designed this rubric:

Technology Rubric:

B.F. Jones, G. Valdez, J. Nowakowski, and C. Rasmussen (1995) developed The Technology Effectiveness Framework that shows how to use technology to get a deeper understanding and allows students to reach the higher-levels of thinking. They have split the framework into three parts:

  • Categorize how each technology is typically used in schools;
  • Highlight some exemplary approaches/programs in each technology
  • Consider how the design and/or school uses of each technology could be configured to move more toward engaged learning and high performance (Jones et al, 1995).

One of the technologies that Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, and Rasmussen (1995) break down into these three categories is the Internet. The Internet allows for students to be the center of the learning stages where they can explore and collaborate with students outside of their classroom. “John Dewey’s idea that children would learn better if learning were truly a part of living experience can be seen when examining the use of the Internet with students” (Feldman, 2000, p. 7).

Are there assessment tools available? What are they?

There are assessment tools available for choosing appropriate technology and technological tools for teaching and learning. Research has provided a site that offers a rubric that can be used to score technology usage within a lesson plan. It can no longer be found, but here is a PDF alternative if you scroll to the end. Teachers can use it to help guide them and ensure proper alignment with curriculum objectives and lesson planning. Teachers can also create rubrics that are specifically designed for each assignment and provide students with parameters for projects. Rubrics can also be created to provide students with guidelines as to what is expected from them before they begin their projects. By technologically creating rubrics in this way, students have more of a focus when using websites to search for information, and teachers are able to change their requirements easily depending upon the grade level and depth of the project.

In NetSavvy, Jukes, Dosaj, and Macdonald (2000) have provided a template for students to use to analyze websites according to content, authorship, sources, authentication, and presentation. This template provides students with the tools and knowledge to critically analyze the source of the information they plan to use in a project or presentation. Other templates are provided for students and teachers to use when documenting technology sources, thus providing them with the tools necessary to determine whether websites are appropriate for the project being researched, as well as the accuracy of the information being provided.

Assessment of whether information is accurate or not falls upon the teacher to choose appropriate web sites, and by utilizing electronic and library databases, teachers are able to access information that has already been assessed for its content through the database itself. Not all databases are created equal and they all have different rules for searching, but they all provide access to websites, articles, published works, and references to information that a student or teacher may need for research. By being able to accurately assess the information provided on a database, utilizing the rubrics provided by NetSavvy (Jukes, Dosaj, & Macdonald, 2000), as well as the rubrics found at the above wesite, teachers and students will be become technologically literate.

How can we avoid inappropriate sites?

The Safe Kids website at explains possible risks that children may face when going online, methods of avoiding risks, and also guidelines parents and educators should follow to help prevent online dangers.

Most schools today filter the Internet to avoid many websites that can be inappropriate. Also, major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, can be pre-set to automatically block many websites with adult themes by changing the preferences on a given computer. While this mode may block out “adult content” some sites may still display items that could be age or content inappropriate. Google and Yahoo may not be suitable search engines for younger students. There are several other search engines that do cater to younger children that teachers, especially at the elementary level, can use. But if educators can teach students how to avoid dangers on the Internet it could go a long way towards preventing unexpected and bad results.

By providing students with the tools to avoid inappropriate content and inappropriate sites, educators are providing them with the tools that they will need online to be productive and safe.

Using Library Databases and Electronic Databases

What is a Library Database?

There are two main questions that arise during the discussion of the use and necessity of library databases, the first being "Why would you or your students use library databases to conduct research?", and the second being, "When would it be more productive to use a library database that your school library subscribes to for students, teachers, and staff than to use the Internet?".

Why would you or your students use library databases to conduct research?

Library databases are used to locate journal or newspaper articles and they are updated daily-to-monthly (Alverno, 2005). One thing to keep in mind when searching library databases is that it may or may not provide you with the entire article, sometimes you may only find an annotated citation. However when providing a citation it will also include the title, issue, page number, and any other information that you might need to find the entire article. Many online library databases provide the option to search for full text only as well. These same databases might even allow you to search for scholarly information that has gone through a peer-review process to ensure it's value. Additionally, libraries try and update their information and you can better ensure that information is reliable and/or valid when a librarian has sifted through the information. The Internet allows anyone to post information without providing continuous updates or without any kind of verification of fact provided.

When would it be more productive to use a library database, that your school library subscribes to, for students, teachers, and staff?

Based on the research by Alverno (2005, September ), it is more productive to use library databases when you are searching for journal and newspaper articles. Librarians can provide students, teacher, and staff with lists of information concerning each school database and how it is broken down into different subjects. Many school databases, depending upon their budget and staffing, will be broken down into the following general areas: expanded academic (scholarly journal, news magazines, and newspapers that cover all academic subject areas), general reference center (newspapers, reference book, magazines, and trade publications), student editions (such as periodical databases designed for high school students), and professional collections (some contain hundreds or thousands of full-text educational periodicals). Researchers can choose one or more of these topics and be able to search by subject, article title, author, key words and more. Many databases are even accessible to students and teachers from places outside the school, although passwords are sometimes required (Shiffler, 2005).

Madeline Albright, a former teacher, began teaching her own students how to be better researchers and to accurately assess Internet sites, which she discusses in the following interview, “I used to be one of these people who spent large portions of my life in the library with index cards, looking things up and writing them down, I felt as though the information had to go through me, so to speak. And – this makes me sound antediluvian- trying to figure out what information was relevant to what I was doing was also part of the process. Now, you can click onto Google and the information just comes up in whatever order some dataset muck-a-muck has decided. So what I’m doing with my students is trying to get them to use information not in long papers, but to change it; to know the quality of the information being used, and to in some way go through the process. But I have to tell you it’s a challenge, because it’s an entirely new way of turning information into knowledge,” (2003).

What is an electronic Database?

Electronic databases are prevalent in today's technologically-immersed world, and continue to grow and become useful for many professions and topics. "An electronic database is a collection of information that can be searched by computer" (Friends Academy, 2006). Electronic databases are used to help researchers locate periodical articles that relate to their topic. Databases have also been used in public to create a place where officials can find information that they need for criminal records, health records, etc.

According to the tutorial for Expanded Academic ASAP User Tutorial, an electronic database can be defined as "an organised list of published information sources (usually journal articles), either giving directions (a citation) to where you can find the full information or containing the information itself (full-text databases) (Thompson Gale, 2005). One thing that is absolutely significant to databases is that they function differently based upon the content that they cover. Not all databases are created equally, thus it helps to understand the particulars of the database before utilizing its multiple functions.

Databases differ from company to company and from state to state, but they are all warehouses of links to information that teachers, and students alike, will be able to find information necessary for reasearch. There are multiple databases provided by local libraries, schools, and universities, such as InfoTrac Onefile, which provides access to educational research materials; The Library of Congress Database; WilsonWeb; Expanded Academic ASAP; Lexis Nexis Academic; American Poetry Database, etc. The Grand Valley State University's Library Website ( contains databases for educators that include Education Research Complete, ERIC via CSA, Education Abstracts, & JSTOR among others. Local libraries also contain their own databases, as well as hospitals, insurance companies, and various other businesses which have their own internal databases to provide them with the research necessary to find answers to their own questions. Electronic databases exist for the help of electronic researchers to both broaden and narrow the search for information.

Electronic databases can also provide full-text databses, but students need to understand the difference between a standard database which may only provide access or reference to information, and a full-text database. "First students must realize that such databases exist and then we have to persuade them to point the browser in the right direction" (Matthews & Wiggins, 2001). An excellent example of the difference between an electronic scholarly database, or library database and merely using Google or Yahoo: it's "like walking into the mall and shouting "Hey, anybody know the side effects of tetracycline?", you might get an answer, but wouldn't you rather ask that question of an authority, such as your doctor?" (Matthews & Wiggins, 2001).

Electronic Databases-How are They Different From Library Databases?

The past few years have seen big changes in the way research is conducted. Using a library database is a time-consuming process that can provide valuable results. However, using a library database cannot bring you the results in a short time frame, as it takes quite a significant amount of time to refine your research to produce needed material. The greatest benefit to using a library database is the security of the information that you will find, "if students click on the school library's databases and catalogs, they have albeit virtually stepped through the doors of the building itself. If they click on an Internet search engine, however, they have hurled themselves into the entire world, the world of cyberspace. Once students understand and acknowledge that difference, they seem almost comforted by taking the less risky step of remaining in the confines of a more familiar, albeit electronic, circumscribed world" (Jenson, 2004). This is not to say that library databases are better, but when doing research for educational purposes, it may be wise to consult the library database, and most especially the libararian.

If research is being done within a library of hard copies, it is a great help to have the assistance of a librarian. A librarian can assist researchers with varying techniques of locating the information as well as processing it. At times, it is difficult to call upon the help of a librarian as they are serving such a large number of the population. At Herrick District Library in Holland, MI, six librarians serve a population of 105,000 (Roncevic, 2002). Traditional print items are becoming scrutinized in terms of continued procurement and transitional formats for electronic uses.

An electronic database is different from a library database only in structure. The general basis of results is primarily the same. Performing a search with either database is going to generate several works in which the researcher can choose from. However, an electronic database differs from a library database in that the timeframe is significantly shortened in a library database, and the location of generated results typically is inconsequential if they are listed in full-text formats. We can endlessly defend the value of books, but we can no longer deny the many advantages of electronic resources: their ease of use, cross-searching capabilities, and simultaneous and remote access options (Roncevic, 2002).

Librarians are witnessing a shift in resources that they offer. In an ideal world, many librarians would like to see their libraries with both print and electronic resources. However, economically, this is a tough feat to accomplish (Roncevic, 2002). An electronic database is difficult in nature to build in terms of cost. An electronic subscription to a journal may cost twice as much as the print version (Roncevic, 2002). Though there are many ways in which electronic databases can help the researcher, it is often difficult for the database to be generated because of funding.

Both databases offer a wide variety of results for any type of research. As our classrooms become more enriched with technology and our society becomes more netsavvy, print databases will become less popular. Our society is already at a point of familiarity with technology that print databases become frustrating. We are in a ‘now’ state of mind when it comes to research, in that we do not want to waste time on a wild goose chase to produce valuable results. In many libraries, using a print database can be difficult since the options are becoming limited. Electronic databases are becoming more prominent in schools and regional libraries throughout our county. The shift from print to electronic is inevitable.

How can databases be used? What are they good for? What are they not good for?

It is important for teachers to recognize when it’s appropriate for students to use electronic databases in their research. If the objective, for instance, is for students to develop information literacy by evaluating the credibility and appropriateness of the information they encounter, perhaps the Internet is best because it requires students to sort through misinformation and unreliable information to get to the facts they’re seeking. But if the goal of the assignment is in part to familiarize students with scholarly journals and expose students to the detailed research conducted by others, then electronic databases are best.
The teacher also should consider the topic students are researching. If they are researching a current event that occurred within the past few months, the Internet of course provides the broadest scope of up-to-the-minute information. But if the students are researching a scientific topic or perhaps a topic in literature, electronic databases can provide the most relevant information culled from many sources. Teachers must always provide as much information for their students as possible, "this means including step-by-step instructions that have been tested and proved accurate each time the exercise is assigned. Given the continual updates and a change that academic libraries necessarily experience, this step is crucial. Providing incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading instructions is often more detrimental than providing none at all" (Jenson, 2004).

Using databases for research ensures that students are accessing credible information. Students can use either selective (subject-specific) databases, in which the content has been selected to support the topic, or comprehensive databases, which contain thousands of journal, magazine and/or newspaper articles (Gilbert and Regenbogen, 2000). "However, the last item on such a research exercise should give them the opportunity to write down any questions they still have about what they are to do in the library or how they are to do it" (Jenson, 2004).

In order for students to use databases effectively for classroom projects and research, teachers cannot assume that students will automatically know how to search databases because they know how to search the Web. Searching is a learned skill and students are no longer growing up card catalogs and the bi-weekly Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature that students used to go to the school library to learn to use to find current event literature. Now, students can search many school libraries from home.

With younger students, certain databases can be great tools because, unlike the vast Internet, a library database can be tailored to the students’ comprehension level. Also, they provide solutions to some of the obstacles that face younger students in their searches for information. Beth Dempsey (2003) notes that many premium children’s databases are available free through statewide information resources and the websites of local libraries.
Kids InfoBits, a child-friendly spin-off of InfoTrac, is aimed at students in grades kindergarten through five. It culls only those resources appropriate for children and does not contain advertising (Dempsey, 2003). “The younger group often can’t narrow their topic to a single phrase, or if they can, they don’t know how to spell it. Kids InfoBits ™ opens with a lively icon-rich topic tree that enables children to click and drill down to a single topic” (Dempsey, 2003).

For younger children, databases like Kids InfoBits do what an Internet search engine can’t: “Organize vast resources into a narrower range that's child-friendly, highly structured so kids can find things easily, and vetted for appropriate content” (Dempsey, 2003). Because databases can sometimes provide more meaningful content for young students than the Internet, teachers should check with their school’s media specialist about the school’s access to children’s databases before starting a research project.

Suggested Resources

The Big 6

This is a program created by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz that breaks down teaching information literacy into 6 Big Steps. Each of the Big Steps have two sub-groups. One point that they make is that the steps do not have to be linear, but all of the steps will be completed before the task is over. The Big 6 are: Task Definition, Information Seeking Strategies, Location and Access, Use of Information, Synthesis and Evaluation. One aspect of this program that I like was that if you simply answer each of the Big 6, it automatically creates your lesson plan for you. The site does provide an ample supply of lesson plans, created by teachers, as a resource.

Information Literacy

This page is in wikipedia itself and provides many good resources.

Information Literacy and You

Penn State University has provided a great step-by-step guide to help students learn how to research. It walks the student through nine steps, including copyright concerns. Each step is simple and concise, and even though it is designed for college students, it can easily be used by high school students. One drawback is that certain steps use databases that are licensed to Penn State University libraries; however the basic principles for searching and identifying databases and periodicals are useful.

Information Literacy in an Information Society. ERIC Digest (ERIC Identifier: ED372756 )

Eric Digest provides a definition of information literacy and how information literacy incorporates technology.


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Software in Education

Software in Education

Software in Education

A computer would be meaningless without software. Software is what brings the computer to life. Software is the name given to computer programs that are written to instruct the computer how to do something. Computer hardware alone is not useful to the average person. Even the operating system (e.g., Windows, Mac OS, Linux) is considered to be software, so the most basic of computers that can be bought will be a package of hardware and software.

This main software that every computer uses is called the operating system. The operating system controls the computer and allows the user to perform actions, such as opening various software programs (e.g., MS Word) and helping the computer communicate with hardware attached to the computer (e.g., printers, scanners, monitors). This chapter focuses on software that can be found in a typical school setting.

Productivity Software

You may have heard of the term productivity software. Productivity software includes some of the most common office-type applications, and is designed to support people—including teachers and students — as they work to become more productive. Some of the main productivity applications include word processing software, spreadsheet software, presentation software, and database software.

Word Processing Software

The most widely used software application is the word processor. Word processing software is used to work primarily with text to create documents (e.g., letters, reports, newsletters). The most commonly used word processor is Microsoft Word, but many other titles exist (e.g., AppleWorks, Wordperfect, Microsoft Works). Figure A shows part of a page of text produced using a word processor.

Teachers can use a word processor to create many documents for the classroom, such as lesson plans, worksheets, or to develop tests. The possibilities are numerous. In fact, many of the documents an average person encounters each day can be created using word processing software. This does not mean that word processors are ideal for all documents, but word processors can produce most of what a classroom teacher will need.

Word processing software is often used for desktop publishing. Desktop publishing is the use of software to create documents that are to be shared. The major difference between word processing software and desktop publishing software is that the final results using desktop publishing software tend to look more polished and professional. Some teachers use an application such as Microsoft Word to do their desktop publishing (e.g., newsletters for parents), while others use a higher end application that is specifically designed for desktop publishing (but is more difficult to learn). The most common desktop publishing application is Microsoft Publisher, but other titles include Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.
One of the greatest benefits of word processing software is it ability to improve many aspects of students’ writing across the curriculum. A page produced using a word processor has many advantages over the handwritten page, but the biggest is that handwriting issues disappear when the student uses a word processor. Some students who have learning disabilities may have difficulty, and spend much energy, trying to manipulate a pen or pencil to create letters. The word processor can benefit the student by removing the barriers to writing, thus allowing the student to focus on the content of the paper.

The writing process is typically considered to be a 5-step process:
1. Prewriting (brainstorming)

2. Writing

3. Revising (reading through your paper and deciding how to improve the writing)

Figure A Word Processor in Action

4. Editing (checking for spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage)

5. Publishing (printing the document, saving to the Web)


Figure A

Research indicates that student writing does improve when using a word processor over using a pen and paper. Further, while each step of the writing process is easier using a word processor, the editing and revising stages are particularly more efficient. As a teacher, you can help your students use the writing process in any curricular area when using word processors. You will likely find a better-quality written product from your students if you do.

A student should understand the basics of operating a computer to best succeed using a word processor (e.g., using a mouse, opening and saving files), and can benefit greatly by learning what the various keys can do (e.g., space bar, return, delete, arrow keys). As their hands get larger, students should learn how to type. When typing becomes more natural, students are able to focus less on the process of finding the correct keys and more on the process of writing, which should be the goal while using word processors. Young students should learn how to type, format and edit text. Elementary school students can also learn how to use the various pull-down menus (File, Edit, View, Insert, etc.), and they can learn how to use the Help features built into most word processing software. As students become more proficient at using word processing software, they can be introduced to more advanced options.

One way to extend the capabilities of many word processing software applications is to use features already built in to the software. For example, Microsoft Word has many toolbars available in the View menu that can be turned on to add functionality to the word processor (see Figure B).


Figure B

Spreadsheet Software

The first spreadsheet, VisiCalc, was developed in the late 1970s. VisiCalc quickly turned personal computers from machines performing computer-related functions to machines that could revolutionize the business world. VisiCalc (short for Visual Calculator) did the same basic function back in the 1970s that many people use spreadsheets for today: organize and manipulate numbers. Spreadsheets have matured from their earliest days, and Microsoft Excel has become the most widely used spreadsheet today.

Most interfaces for spreadsheet applications look very similar despite the actual software package being used. Most look like an array of boxes, or a grid, that fills much of the screen (see Figure C). These boxes are called cells. The cells stretching from left to right in a line across the screen make up the rows, and the cells from top to bottom are the columns. Each individual cell has a unique address. For example, the selected cell in Figure C is labeled as B3. The columns are named according to the alphabet (A, B, C, . . . AA, AB, . . . ) and the rows are labeled with numbers that start with 1. Unlike early spreadsheets, the software now allows the user to place many other variables beyond numbers in a cell (e.g., text, formulas, dates and times, etc.).


Figure C

Teachers are discovering many uses for spreadsheets in how they manage their classrooms. Most teachers who rely on using a paper grade book will quickly see the benefits of using a spreadsheet on the computer instead. Spreadsheets can also be used to easily figure student grades and class averages. Likewise teachers can quickly create charts, giving data a visual display (e.g., pie chart, bar chart) for analysis (see Figure D).


Figure D

Spreadsheet software can be used in a variety of ways in all kinds of classrooms. In early elementary classes, the emphasis can be less on the numbers and more on text. For example, Figure E shows a spreadsheet comparing two countries, with individual cells being used to display and organize the results.


Figure E

Teachers could also create a weekly spreadsheet that displays the homework for each student to take home to parents. Figure F provides one example of how this might look.


Figure F

A teacher could use a spreadsheet with students to track daily temperatures or to help keep the accounting for a school or classroom business. A math teacher could use a spreadsheet to have students do “what if” scenarios. For example, students could use a spreadsheet to compare total purchase price of a new car, depending on years of the loan and various interest rates.

As students become more advanced, they can learn to use formulas in a spreadsheet (e.g., average, sum, standard deviation). Formulas can help students perform complex calculations quickly and effortlessly. A spreadsheet could be set up to use a formula to calculate what a student’s weight would be on the moon or on another planet. A physical education teacher could use a function in a spreadsheet to compare daily calorie intake with weight gain/loss and how the two are positively related.

Some people who are not proficient in math may find a spreadsheet a bit intimidating, but spreadsheets have so many uses beyond manipulating numbers. Any teacher should be able to find ways to supplement a curriculum using spreadsheet software.

Other Productivity Software

While word processing software and spreadsheet software tend to get the most use from teachers and in schools, there are other productivity applications, including: presentation software and database software.

Presentation software allows teachers to use a computer and projector much like they would transparency sheets with an overhead projector; however presentation software offers many more features. Two examples of presentation software applications are Microsoft’s PowerPoint™, and Apple’s Keynote. Figure G provides a glimpse at Apple’s Keynote application and a presentation being edited.


Figure G

Microsoft’s PowerPoint™ is a full-fledged presentation application, but it has also become a rudimentary multimedia development tool. Teachers can create slides for presentations or student applications that are interactive. Presentations can offer multimedia elements (e.g., audio clips, video clips, photographs, charts) that a regular paper worksheet or textbook cannot. A wonderful benefit to this software is that a teacher can provide the presentation file to students, eliminating the need for them to take notes, and thus allowing them to pay better attention to the content being discussed. This is an accommodation that can benefit many students.

Students can also use presentation software in many different ways. Some teachers will have students create a presentation rather than write a paper, which can benefit those students who have strengths other than writing. Students can create slides full of text, images, or other media that can far exceed what a normal word-processed document could provide in regard to multimedia. The main limitation of presentation software is that each page or slide displayed is limited in size. The result is that, while students are limited in depth of information provided, they are not limited in the number of slides they can develop.

Another less commonly used productivity application is database software. This software is used to store and organize information. The database application provides users with a tool to manipulate data and information and output it into reports. A teacher might use a database to store information about each student, including name, address, parents/guardians, and so on. Another database could be created to store lesson plans. A teacher could use keywords to identify a specific lesson plan (e.g., frogs, dissecting, biology) when storing and retrieving the data. Most school libraries use a computer database to store card catalog data, and that database allows users to search using various search criteria (e.g., author’s last name, date of publication, title, call number). All students should understand how to use a database. In fact, the Internet is actually the largest database on Earth.

Most teachers will never design their own database; however, many teachers might use a spreadsheet to solve problems that would be better suited for a database. A database differs from a spreadsheet in that a database is typically harder to set up and has a larger learning curve to get started. The database can be easier to manage once it is created and can be easier to share information, reports, and the like. The spreadsheet is most often thought of as a tool to manipulate data— specifically, numerical data—but a spreadsheet can handle other variables as well, which is why many people choose a spreadsheet to perform functions that a database is designed to do. While a spreadsheet is used and updated by one user at a time, multiple people can use a database at a time and the database can have various levels of security implemented. The bottom line is that most people will choose a tool they are comfortable with over a tool that is unknown, and few teachers know how to plan and configure a database.

There are many other productivity-type applications that serve a number of purposes. For example, some software give users the ability to easily create flowchart diagrams and outlines (e.g., Inspiration, OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle). Teachers and students can use the software to brainstorm, plan, organize, outline, and diagram a paper or project. Many possibilities exist for this type of software, with so many potential applications related to productivity and the curriculum.


Educational software is a broad category that encompasses many different software
titles. This category includes software designed for teachers and software that is
created to be used by students. Both of these categories are examined in this section
and both teachers and students use many of the software titles discussed.

Educational Software for Teachers

Classroom management software is gaining much popularity in the classroom. This is software that is created to help a teacher run the classroom more efficiently. For example, many schools are now recording attendance on the computer. Your future classroom might have software for you to use that makes the attendance process more efficient. You might also have a website to enter daily attendance results. Using technology helps provide feedback to parents more quickly when problems with attendance arise.

A teacher might also use software to manage student grades. In the past, most teachers used grade books with graph paper, but grade books are rapidly being replaced in many schools with electronic solutions. Some teachers will use a spreadsheet to keep grades organized. Some schools will provide grade-recording software or a website where teachers can enter and store grades (see Figure H). The nice thing about entering grades electronically is that parents can receive such information more effectively than they could before. Many systems allow parents to check attendance and grades as needed, which helps to get parents more involved in the educational process.


Figure H

Academic Software

Much education software exists on the market. Although trying to sift through individual software titles can be tedious and time-consuming, knowing how you want to use the software before shopping for it can reduce your time tremendously. Software can be classified in many different ways, but most educators tend to recognize the following categories of academic software: drill-and-practice, tutorials, learning games, simulations, Integrated Learning Systems (ISL), reference, and
other academic software.

Case Study

To start the school year, Mrs.Wei received two new computers for her classroom. They came with a suite of productivity applications, which she greatly appreciates; however, she would also like some applications that can help her meet some of her curricular objectives for 3rd grade. Some of her students are still struggling to learn how to read at grade level; her district is convinced that these reading skills are key to just about every subject in school; and the state assessments will require the ability to read and comprehend questions.

Mrs.Wei is not sure where to find software that she can trust, as there are hundreds of titles to choose from. Another teacher suggested going to a site on the Internet that provides reviews of educational software. She found a site that she really liked, which allows users to rate software . . . so, she could read what other teachers thought of the software she was considering. This site was one of the top sales sites online -- (educational texts).

She wanted software written at roughly a first-grade reading level. She found one title that was rated pretty well (The Learning Company Reader Rabbit 1st Grade).

Mrs.Wei also received a long list of potential software resources for future use (e.g., categories and specific names of software) from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which is the preeminent professional organization for teachers and technology ( & hardware).

Drill-and-Practice Software

Drill-and-practice software was very popular in the early days of computing. This software was developed to reinforce and practice content that is not being introduced for the first time. In other words, drill-and-practice can work very much like traditional flashcards in helping to practice previously introduced content (e.g., the multiplication tables). This type of software tends to be passive in nature, so care should be taken to ensure that students using drill-and-practice software are being stimulated and are getting good practice on a targeted concept. Newer drill-and-practice software can take advantage of multimedia elements to provide a more feature-rich learning experience. One of the great educational benefits of technology is the ability to receive instantaneous feedback. The most effective drill-and-practice software will provide instant feedback to the learner.

Unlike drill-and-practice software, tutorial software presents new material. Tutorial software is designed to carefully introduce a new concept and walk the user through the various steps toward learning the new concept or skill. Some tutorial-based software will take the user through predetermined steps in order, while other tutorial software leaves the order of the information being presented to the user. Tutorials are interactive in nature, which means that the student plays a significant role in its use and is able to make decisions and demonstrate an understanding of the content being presented. Many effective tutorials will let the user determine the pace of the learning.

Learning Games

Learning games present instruction in the form of a game. This means that, while the game will likely have the appearance of a video game, there are still more archaic titles floating around. The benefit of this type of software is that it tends to be more motivational to the learners as they, are covertly at times, presented with drill-and-practice or tutorial-type components. While the student may enjoy using this software more than that in other categories, using games in the classroom has many critics. One of the main arguments against such use is that the game can sometimes become more important than the learning. Care should be taken when using educational games to ensure that winning does not become the goal over the curricular objectives.

Software that provides the user with an electronic version of a real-life concept or experience is called simulation software. One of the most common types of simulators is a flight simulator, which allows the user to have an experience similar to flying a real airplane without the dangers and logistical issues that ensue. The software attempts to replicate a real flight as much as possible, and to create scenarios that reflect an actual situation. The user must react to changes in climate, air pressure, wind, altitude, speed, and so on. The user is able to press keys on the keyboard and mouse (or a more advanced device, like a joystick) to control the functions of flight. There are many educational simulations on the market, and the costs vary greatly. An educational simulation might allow students to perform virtual experiments in science, which can save money on supplies and can reduce the dangers associated with working with many chemicals. For schools on a limited budget, dissecting a virtual frog can save money over purchasing dissecting equipment and real frogs. Simulation software also has applications in other curricular areas: it allows students to do more discovery-type activities in the classroom, and can also have tutorial components built-in to help free the teacher to work with specific students.

Integrated Learning Systems

Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) include software that runs on a network of computers and is designed to provide instructional content, assessment, and a management system for substantial course content. An ILS can be used over many grade levels and can provide detailed information to teachers about specific curricular objectives. Integrated learning systems were much more popular in the earlier days of computing in schools. Much research has shown that ILS provides skills in isolation of the curriculum and that any learning is not being transferred to other subjects and tasks. A problem with ILS is that these systems tend to rely on frequent practice and rote instruction and memorization. One of the biggest criticisms is that the ILS not only changes the curriculum, but it also becomes the curriculum and the teacher. A much more effective way to use ILS is as a supplement or remediation tool for students who may not have grasped the material when first taught. A good teacher is still far more effective at instruction than any computer software, which is why ILS might work best for students who need remedial-type activities.

Reference Software

Reference software is really a broad category by itself. Reference software is designed to provide those materials typically found in reference books— dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. The benefit of presenting this material in an electronic format is that a classroom is saved much space by using a few CD-ROMs versus a whole encyclopedia set sitting on the shelves. Another benefit to reference- based software is the multimedia element that software can add to a traditionally paper-based medium. Rather than showing your students the text and a photo from M. L. King’s “I have a dream speech,” software can be used to actually watch the speech on video.

Other Academic Software

Other academic software makes up the remaining collection of educational software, and includes curriculum-related products. Educational software is used most often to supplement the curriculum being taught but will occasionally be used in place of the curriculum, if the software can meet specific objectives as determined by the classroom teacher. Buying or selecting educational software should be approached with care.

Much educational software is marketed by subject area, with the specific objective of helping to reinforce a particular subject taught in school. For example, one software title is “Reading for Meaning” and another is called “Math Mysteries.” The difficulty with subject-area software is often in trying to determine if it will benefit your students in a specific content or subject area. As a teacher, you should try to determine if the software has been tested on students similar to those in your school, and what results were achieved. Too often software has features that make it look appealing to teachers or to students (e.g., fancy packaging, nifty name, animations), but less care is taken regarding the actual content. Some websites provide free reviews of educational software and can be found with a simple web search. Thousands of titles exist and, fortunately, there are strategies for narrowing a search for a specific software package.


Productivity software remains the most widely used software in education, with word processing software at the top of the list. This is not a surprise because word processors can be used in so many different subject areas.

Other productivity software includes spreadsheet software, presentation software, and database software. Many of these software categories are found with regularity in our classrooms. Productivity software spans a vast array of business related applications, and its main function is to help people be more productive.

Some educational software is designed for teachers (e.g., grade book software, attendance software), while others (academic software) are designed to be used by students. Academic software falls into seven categories: drill-and-practice, tutorials, learning games, simulations, Integrated Learning Systems (ILS), reference, and other academic software. Each category has benefits and disadvantages, which are largely determined by the age of the students and the content area being studied. Knowing how each category can best be used will help to ensure that the academic software is used most appropriately.

When choosing software for your classroom, you should always consider the many needs and learning styles of your students. There is no software package that can replace you and there is no software solution that will work effectively with every student. A good teacher is still very much the key to good instruction and classroom management.


1. What productivity applications have you used and how have they saved you time? What software do you use regularly and how do you use it? What software would you like to learn? Why?

2. Do word processors become too much of a crutch for students learning to write? How about the use of calculators in math?

3. In what scenarios would a teacher choose to use a database application rather than a spreadsheet?

4. When are drill-and-practice software applications beneficial to students? How can they be a hindrance to the learning process? 5. How are grade book software packages and a spreadsheet alike? 6. Should software applications be taught in a separate computer class or in each subject area? Why?


Productivity software: A common office-type software designed to support people as they work.

Drill-and-practice software: Software that reinforces and practices content that is not being introduced for the first time in a stimulus-response approach to learning.

Tutorial software: Software designed to carefully introduce a new concept or skill that walks the user through the various steps toward learning it.

Learning games: This software presents instruction in the form of a game.

Simulation software: Software that provides the user with an electronic version of a real-life concept or experience.

Integrated learning systems (ILS): This software is designed to provide instructional content, assessment, and a management system for substantial course content.

Reference software: Software that is designed to provide those materials typically found in reference books (e.g., dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.).


Create a sample grade book in a spreadsheet application and fill in some sample students. Try to use the spreadsheet to automatically figure your grades. Can you also create a bar graph chart that illustrates your results?

1. Search for Websites that sell software at education prices. Do many of the titles have nice discounts for educators? What are the necessary requirements to purchase this software?

2. Explore the mail merge option in your word processing application. Read how it works in the tutorial and then try creating a sample letter to a few parents. This is an example of combining a word processor and a database to create a shortcut in writing letters home to parents. One letter and one database can be combined so that you only write the letter one time and the software packages handle the bulk of the work for you.


Productivity Software

The National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers Curriculum and Content Area Standards. This site discusses technology productivity tools.

Educational Software

The National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers’ Sample Software and Website Evaluation Forms is a site that provides user reviews of educational software.

Page last updated: May 23, 2013

Issues in Educational Technology

Case Study

Mrs. Gonzales likes to supplement her instruction with visual aids (e.g., PowerPoint™ presentations, digital images, Inspiration) and often tries to use a CD-ROM full of clipart images, purchased with her own money, to enhance her presentations. Today she was unable to find an image for her lesson on dissecting a frog. She thought it important to have relevant images so that her students would get the proper overview before cutting into their own frog specimens. Fortunately, Mrs. Gonzales was able to remember a tip she’d received from another teacher about finding images on the Internet. She visited and was able to search for and find many images of frogs in various stages of dissection. The dilemma she faced was that she was not sure if she was allowed to use the images she had found, or whether she would be violating copyright laws. What would you do?

Identifying current issues in technology is a constantly evolving process. Those of today will be solved by tomorrow’s technology. Moreover, the essence of lifelong learning can be readily applied to issues in technology. Thus, identifying current issues in technology is an exercise in and of itself. As a classroom teacher, you will confront many technology-related topics that will rely on your ability to develop meaningful solutions. This chapter presents many such issues that teachers encounter every day. The current issues covered in this chapter include those of legal, ethical, and social nature. Some have emerged because of the current technologies and some have existed much longer than the current push for technology in schools.


Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright is a term used to describe the protections given to authors, musicians, artists, and others who create products from their original work. The current copyright laws were written in 1976 to ensure that individuals who create a work have ownership over their works. (See for the US Government Copyright office. This site has much information written for the general public.) What this means to you in the classroom is that you need to get permission if you are going to copy a product you find.

Educators rely on the various resources they find. Most teachers have the students’ interest in mind when they choose to use a resource in their classroom. A teacher may have videotaped a good PBS television series to show in an American history class each year. Or a teacher might have found the perfect image on the Internet to use in a PowerPoint™ presentation for current and future lectures. Both of these scenarios are in violation of copyright laws, but you can tape a program and use it one time. You cannot tape shows from the television to show in your classroom year after year. Also, just because you can find images freely available on the Internet, this does not give you permission to then copy them to use again and again. This chapter will discuss a concept called “fair use.” The fair use guidelines will give you some parameters for what copyrighted works you can use and how you can use them.

Under certain circumstances, called fair use, people can commit minor violations of the copyright laws if they are doing so for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research (see Fair Use box of text below). This means that depending on the circumstances, the classroom teacher can use small portions of copyrighted works without obtaining permission (see Figure A). Fair use does have some flexibility, similar to most laws on the books, and it is this lack of specificity that creates confusion for those who do not have time to figure out all of the intricacies of the law. In fact, the law does not even provide specific parameters of how the law gets interpreted and enforced. This is largely being left to the courts; however, ignorance of the law can still get a teacher and a school into legal trouble.

Copyright and Computer Software

Copyright laws also apply to computer software. Software piracy is a growing problem and software publishers are becoming more aggressive in how they pursue individuals breaking the law and copying software. All software contains a software license and most require the user to agree to an End-User-License-Agreement (EULA) prior to installing the software on a computer. When software is purchased, the software is really being licensed to the end user, with the software itself remaining the property of the author or publisher. The individual is merely being allowed to use the software in accordance with the EULA. This license agreement will typically explain that the software can be installed on only one computer. Sometimes the EULA will allow the end user to install the software on one desktop machine and one laptop machine, or any number of other options. Each EULA should be read and understood to avoid breaking the law even though the natural tendency is to just click “okay.”

Individuals and schools will typically purchase a software license that is catered to their particular needs and budget. The various software licenses are: 1) single-user, 2) multiple-user, 3) network license, and 4) site license.

A single-user license is common for individuals. This license allows the individual to install the software on only one computer, but there are some exceptions. Purchasing software for many computers using a single-user license is the most expensive way to buy software, because other purchasing methods allow for a bulk rate discount. A more cost-effective method of purchasing software for many computers is called a multiple-user license. The multiple-user license would be more appropriate for a classroom that has five or more computers. This is similar to buying bulk at the grocery store in that the extra product comes at a discount. The school agrees to purchase 5, 10, 20, or more copies of a particular software package, and the vendor agrees to give the school a quantity discount. This helps schools to equip more computers with software and to save money on the cost per machine. A network license works much like the multiple-user license in that the school is purchasing more than one copy; however, the network license allows the schools to install software on a network server and the license specifies the number of other computers that can open the software at any given time. For example, if the network license allows ten machines to run the software, the first ten machines that open the particular application will be able to use it, but any other computers that attempt to open the software will not be allowed to do so until one of the existing machines closes the application. This is a solution for schools that want multiple copies to be used in different locations at varying times. The final license is called a site license. This is another cost-effective method of software licensing, and is often the most cost effective when installing software on machines in an organization (e.g., a school). The site license ensures that every machine at a location will get necessary software installed. For instance, many schools find it wise to purchase a site license for necessary software, such as Microsoft Office or a particular e-mail application or grade book software that is common across the district.


Examples of What Can Be Copied

  • A chapter from a book (never the entire book)
  • An article from a periodical or newspaper
  • A short story, essay, or poem. One work is the norm, whether it comes from an individual work or an anthology
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper
  • Poetry: Multiple copies of a poem of 250 words or less that exist on two pages or less, or 250 words from a longer poem
  • Prose: Multiple copies of an article, story, or essay that has 2,500 words or less; or excerpts up to 1,000 words or 10 percent of the total work, whichever is less
  • Illustrations: Multiple copies of a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture contained in a book or periodical issue

Figure A Some Examples of Fair Use for Teachers Copyright and Computer Software

Understanding the various licenses and how best to use them is important for schools. Violating the license agreements can result in heavy fines to a school. Therefore, while buying one copy and trying to install it on many machines might seem like a cheap solution, it is, in fact, illegal. The fines, if caught doing this can far exceed the amount that the school would have paid to buy a site license or network license.

Fair Use

. . . the fair use of a copyrighted work . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (This applies to how you intend to use the copyrighted works—e.g., for the classroom and not commercially)
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work; (This applies to the type of work that is copyrighted—e.g., is it creative work? Factual work?)
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; (This applies to how much of the copyrighted work you intend to use—e.g., a small amount is more likely to be okay than a larger portion); and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (This applies to how your use might impact the ability of the copyright holder to make money on the work(s)—e.g., does your use prevent the creator from making money?)

More to consider:

  • You are permitted to use the works that qualify for fair use in the classroom setting only and an online class is likely treated the same way as a traditional classroom, though you should check with your school to be sure.
  • Give credit to the copyright holder and the copyright notice ©.
  • Use the copyrighted materials no more than 1 time. Beyond the first year you must receive permission from the copyright holder.
  • When in doubt, use caution. Limit any fair use to small amounts (e.g., no more than 10% of images from a site and no more than 15 total).
  • These rules apply to your students as well (e.g., student projects, presentations). For more details, visit (Circular 21, “Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians”).


Much of the Copyright and Fair Use issue is resolved by the courts. For a list of more examples of what might be considered Fair Use, see this link.


File Sharing

The website Napster was the first large-scale use of the Internet for sharing music illegally. The site grew to 60 million visitors in just a few short years. People flocked to Napster because they could get free music in the form of MP3 files and they did this by sharing files with each other. The site was easy to use and convenient. Napster was also found to be violating copyright laws and was forced to shut down because this music sharing was not legal. Most people simply sought alternative solutions to Napster. Many newer systems of file sharing called peer-to-peer sharing popped up -- these file-sharing networks do not run through a centralized server like Napster did. The courts could shut down a centralized server, but newer file-sharing systems emerged that allow users to share files from each other and not through the company website; though, the practice is still illegal for users who share copyrighted works. In 2009, Pirate Bay -- a popular bit torrent tracker, had it's founders convicted of copyright violations and sentenced to a year in prison.

Some people will use special software to develop an open or closed network of computers whose purpose is to share files, even beyond music. These networks can be used for positive and beneficial purposes. For example, a group might set up a file-sharing network as they work on a project so that the latest files related to the project are available to everyone in the group. Other networks might share files that are freely available in the public domain. Unfortunately, many of these file-sharing networks are developed for the sole purpose of sharing files illegally, as Napster was. People can use these file-sharing networks to share movies, software, music, and more.

The music industry has been cracking down on people who abuse these networks, with fines ranging into the thousands of dollars. Even though the process of sharing files can be easy, many files are still being shared in an illegal manner and this type of sharing should be avoided. Schools and perpetrators can receive large fines or even jail time for stealing music, software, movies, and other copyrighted works. Individuals can receive a $250,000 fine and up to three years in prison for violating copyright laws using a file-sharing network. Schools can also be fined into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for copyright infringement.

Internet Filters

Schools are legally obligated to protect students from inappropriate content while the students are online. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) stipulates that all public schools and libraries install software and/or hardware to ensure that children do not view inappropriate content while using the Internet. Most schools and libraries have installed filtering systems (e.g., hardware or software). These filtering systems work in many different ways. One filter can use a list that contains the addresses of inappropriate sites having offensive content, and works by blocking these sites from the computer. Another filtering system might work just the opposite, by keeping a list of only the approved sites that can be visited. These two types of filters require much human interaction and time. Some other filters look for keywords (e.g., inappropriate words) and sites with a large percentage of photos. Many filters even examine photo names on the pages for inappropriate and R-rated names.



The Internet has gained much prominence in educational settings. These days, many students and teachers are creating their own websites, which are great ways to share resources and communicate. The Internet is a valuable tool for self publication, that is, one person can post a website that is viewable by hundreds of millions of people. The benefits are many; however, the dangers are readily apparent as well. Teachers need to ensure that great care is taken to protect student privacy. In fact, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a law that was passed to help protect students while online.

The responsibility of protecting student privacy lies with the teacher. Teachers should never post images of students, student names, or any other identifying information on the Internet without prior parental permission. Even with permission, a teacher should be cautious about releasing information about a student beyond a first name. Releasing the name of a child in a certain class could create a safety issue for that child. Most schools have an “Acceptable Use Policy” that addresses this issue. The classroom teacher should understand and follow these rules.

The same care should be taken when using software to record and share student grades and other personal data. Students should only be able to see their own records (e.g., grades). You are not allowed to identify a student by the student’s school ID number or social security number. You should also take care to use software that only displays a student’s records to the individual student and/or his parents.


The issue of plagiarism existed well before the computer and the Internet emerged in schools. The problem has only been exacerbated with the onset of newer technologies. Students now have access to hundreds of millions of resources and various cheat sites on the Internet. No classroom teacher can check every paper or project submitted to ensure that the work is original, but there are tools available to help teachers tackle the problem. Unfortunately, most of these cost money. One site is called A site such as this keeps a large database of online papers and websites so that a classroom teacher can check student papers against the materials in the database to ensure that the work is not plagiarized. This service is very fast and easy to use.

Case Study

Mr. Johnson noticed some higher quality work in one particular paper from a student who did not typically use the vocabulary style in this paper. Mr. Johnson suspected that the student might have plagiarized much of the content of the paper; unfortunately, his school did not subscribe to an online plagiarism resource such as However, Mr. Johnson already had another strategy in mind as he opened up his browser and went to his favorite search engine, Google. He did a search for one sentence in the paper to see if it matched any of the billions of sites being indexed by Google. To ensure that the specific sentence was searched for, Mr. Johnson used quotation marks around the sentence. Sure enough, the sentence matched with a website. Upon visiting the site, Mr. Johnson was able to discover that about 1/3 of the paper had been copied directly from the website.


Spam is a term given to unsolicited e-mails that are typically junk mail, that is, mail sent to many people trying to sell some product. Some people see spam as unsolicited advertisements, while others consider any impersonal e-mail forwards—jokes, pictures, stories, chain letters—to be spam as well. A common theme among most definitions is that spam is an unwanted e-mail.

Avoiding spam is nearly impossible, but strategies are available to help minimize it. When you buy things from online vendors they collect information about you. This same concept applies to online services (gaming sites, subscription sites, news sites, etc.) or any site that asks you for an e-mail address. Many of these vendors and online sites create lists of e-mail addresses, which are often sold to people who send spam. One way to avoid getting spam in your main e-mail account is to sign up for a free online e-mail account (e.g., gmail), and only use this online e-mail account for purchases on the Internet. This helps keep your school or business account from being sold to spammers. You will still get spam sent to your online e-mail account (you can easily delete mass quantities of spam with most online e-mail services), but your main e-mail account will largely remain free from bulk quantities of spam. The best way to avoid spam is to be very careful about giving out your e-mail address. Read the privacy agreement that is provided by most sites that ask for your information. They should tell you whether they share any of your information with other people or businesses. Sometimes they even have options that allow you to choose whether or not your information is shared.


Digital Divide

Perhaps the most apparent technology-related social issue faced by many teachers today is called the digital divide. The digital divide is generally recognized as the gap between those individuals who have access to technology -- specifically computers with internet access -- at home and those individuals who do not. Another digital divide that is emerging more in the U.S. represents the gap among those students who have broadband (high speed) access to the Internet, those students who have slower (dialup) access, and those students who have no Internet access. A Pew Internet study in 2015 found that 67% of all adult Americans now have a high-speed internet connection at home. The percentage of Americans with broadband at home has grown from 47% in early 2007. However, the report also notes that 67% is a drop. At the same time, more Americans have smartphones now and 13% are getting their internet connections only from a smartphone. This is especially pronounced among African-Americans who went from 10% smartphone only to 20% since 2013. As more Americans shift to smartphones as their only source of home internet access, the challenges become pronounced as noted in this snippet from the link above: Those who are “smartphone-dependent” for access do encounter distinct challenges. Previous Pew Research Center findings show that they are more likely than other users to run up against data-cap limits that often accompany smartphone service plans. They also more frequently have to cancel or suspend service due to financial constraints. Additionally, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that those who use digital tools for job searches face challenges when it comes to key tasks such as filling out job applications and writing cover letters.

While computers are appearing in more and more classrooms, the access divide is still very much an issue for many students. A digital divide previously existed between schools in their ability to provide Internet access to students, but this divide has shrunk as the government has made grants available to schools that were without; however, the gap in home access is still apparent. In fact, a government report indicates that 99% of schools have access to the Internet as of 2002 and that 92% of individual classrooms have access (, 2002;

A report (PDF) out of England reveals that even though we have kids now growing up in the "Google generation" -- people born after 1993 who have grown up only knowing a world that is connected -- are not any more technology literate online than previous generations. These individuals are more technology savvy in that they can use Facebook, Twitter and many other social networking sites, but they not better at using a search engine to find valid and reliable information nor do they demonstrate that they know how to use good search terms and phrases. Additionally, the study notes that Google generation is learning how to multitask in meaningful ways, which is to be expected somewhat. But the study also notes that these students are good at cut-and-pasting information and this can lead to more plagiarism; not more learning. So, even kids who are on the side of the digital divide with more technology are still not adequately learning how to benefit greatly from this extra exposure and access.

Classroom teachers may not be able to overcome the digital divide alone, but they should be cognizant of the types of homework given that require a computer or Internet access. One strategy is to allow classroom time for work that requires access to the Internet and to then give a different assignment for homework. Teachers can also work to ensure that students who are not getting practice with technology at home are not being neglected at schools as well. Teachers can help students make great strides in learning and using new technologies if the teacher is willing to use and encourage the use of new technologies in the curriculum.

If interested in trying to bridge the digital divide in a community, the government provides a toolkit for teachers that can help to achieve this goal. This site is


Computer security goes far beyond ensuring that computers are not stolen. Computers also have to be protected from vandalism, computer viruses, and from being accessed by people who are not authorized to access them.

All technology in schools needs to be protected from theft. The high cost of new technologies makes it especially lucrative to thieves. Many schools still use computer labs where many computers are available for classroom use. These rooms should have extra security to help protect the machines.

However, many schools also have computers in various classrooms as well. As a teacher, you will be responsible for the technology in your room, and you should take steps to ensure that your computers are kept safe from theft.

Perhaps more costly than thievery are the cost due to vandalism. Vandalism occurs when computers are left unsupervised. Students can vandalize intentionally (sticking a pencil or pen in the CD-ROM slot) or unintentionally (spilling a pop on the keyboard). The best strategy for preventing vandalism is to not leave students alone with computers. Posting rules for using computers is another strategy that can help (see Figure B). These rules can act as a reminder to students that they are expected to treat the machines with care.

Computer Lab Rules

Students are responsible for using equipment in a professional manner and in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy.

Labs & Equipment

  1. Absolutely NO drinking or eating in the computer labs.
  2. Report all system problems to the teacher, computer lab assistant, or coordinator on duty. Do NOT attempt to repair or tamper with equipment.
  3. Do NOT remove, rearrange, disconnect, or deface any equipment.

Figure B Sample Portion of Lab Rules

While theft and vandalism are easily preventable by locking away equipment and supervising it when in use, there is another security threat that is not as overt. Some people choose to do harm to other computers by hacking into them or by sending special computer programs designed to wreak havoc, such as a computer virus.


Legal issues related to technology in education can be the most costly to ignore. Copyright violations can cost schools thousands of dollars. Teachers can also be found guilty of copyright violations, so this is not a topic to take lightly. Fortunately, fair-use guidelines do provide educators with some exceptions and minor adjustments to the copyright laws, though care should be taken to understand the fair-use guidelines to avoid any infractions of the laws. Copyright issues also apply to software, and most software publishers provide various licenses to save schools money when buying their products. Rarely do End-User-License- Agreements give an individual permission to install software on more than one or two computers, so teachers and individuals should always read the End-User-License-Agreement that accompanies their software.

Ethical issues pertain to plagiarism and privacy. The Internet and other new technologies provide the means for students to cheat and plagiarize. Teachers can employ strategies to help stop plagiarism, but these methods require the teacher to remain diligent in fighting this kind of cheating. Teachers also have the responsibility of protecting student identities while online and when posting student work to a school website. No student should ever be identified by name or photo unless parents have agreed to allow this, which is typically in the form of an Acceptable Use Policy.

The digital divide is probably the most glaring social issue related to technology in the schools. There are two kinds of divides that teachers deal with in a typical classroom: 1) the gap between those students who have access to computers at home and those students who do not, and 2) the gap between those students who have high speed access to the Internet, those students who have slower (dial-up) access, and those students who do not have any access to the Internet.

Finally, numerous other technology-related issues exist, from computer security to e-mail spam. You can work in your school and district to help ensure that current issues do not become problematic. Developing rules and policies and being aware of various issues are some steps you can take to help ensure a thriving educational environment that takes advantage of current technologies.


Copyright: A term used to describe the protections given to authors, musicians, artists, and others who create products from their original work.

Digital divide: The gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not. This gap can also represent the gap between those who have access to a broadband Internet connection versus those with dial-up or without any Internet connectivity.

Fair use: Some individuals, including teachers, can commit minor violations of the copyright laws if they are doing so for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Software license: When individuals and/or schools purchase software, the software is not actually owned by the end user; rather, this end user is being granted a license to use the software according to the End-User-License-Agreement.

Spam: A term given to unsolicited e-mails that are typically junk mail trying tosell some product.



Teaching Copyright to Students

The United States Copyright Office

The Copyright Clearance Center. This is where you can go to get permission to reproduce copyrighted works.


The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Teacher’s resource for privacy issues


Plagiarism resource

Digital Divide

The National Center for Education Statistics. You can search for the current data about technology in schools and related demographics.

Computers for Learning government website

PBS series on the digital divide with teacher brochures and resources

Acceptable Use Policies

Acceptable Use Policies


British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (2008). Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future. PDF download:

Horrigan, J. B. (2006). Home Broadband Adoption 2006. Pew Internet and American Life Project:

Kleiner, A. & Lewis, L. (2003). “Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994–2002.” National Center for Education Statistics.

Toolkit for bridging the digital divide in your community. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.

U.S. Copyright Office. (particularly circular 21, “Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.”

Professional Development

Professional Development

Professional Development

Case Studies

Colton Schools is a relatively low-income rural district that recently hired Phil. Phil has three old computers with Internet access in his classroom and access to one computer lab for five hours per week. Phil wants to use technology as much as possible in his teaching, but his district offers only very basic training to teachers and this assumes that the technology he uses will be working on the day he decides to use it.

Josh was hired right out of college by Fenton Magnet School. Students have home access to their own personal computer. There is a wireless network in Josh’s school as well as class sets of handheld computers and wireless laptops. Josh has a Smart Board and a projector for his desk computer in his classroom, and access to several digital video camcorders and digital cameras. Josh’s problem is not lack of hardware or software; rather, he lacks training on the equipment so that he can use these tools in his teaching -- than merely learning skills.


A chapter devoted to professional development might seem premature before you even begin your first teaching job. However, professional development is for teachers in all stages of their career. Beginning in your preservice learning helps you to learn how technology can supplement and enhance the other learning you are doing. Whether you are an undergraduate taking a required technology education course, or a classroom teacher with many years of experience, you will have a need for professional development in technology. This need persists for a couple of reasons. For example, technology changes, which makes it difficult to keep up on your own without further training or instruction. Many teachers can keep abreast with new technology, but not without investing significant time on their own. Also, understanding how and when to use a particular technology in your teaching, learning, and as a tool to work efficiently and effectively can better enable you to see the possibilities for any new technologies that come along. Many students/teachers find that using technology in teaching gets easier as you become more familiar with it and the possibilities that exist. As your comfort level rises, so too will your desire to try new technology solutions. Professional development opportunities can provide learning opportunities in a succinct and targeted manner.

Beyond the need highlighted in the previous paragraph, the International Society for Technology in Education also provides incentive through their National Educational Technology Standards for teachers and future teachers as noted in this particular standard and the ensuing performance indicators:

Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. Teachers:

  1. participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning
  2. exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community
    building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others
  3. evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital
    tools and resources in support of student learning
  4. contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community

Technology Professional Development As A preservice Teacher

Every field in education has national professional organizations that provide resources and guidelines specific to that field. These organizations are created to provide a forum for teachers, researchers, and others who are concerned with education to share and learn from one another as they move the field forward. For example, the National Science Teachers Association ( is one such professional organization for current and future science teachers. A great time to join one or more of these organizations is while you are a student since you can take advantage of reduced rates for journals, association dues, and conference fees (See below for a list of associations in the educational technology field).

Major Associations in the Educational Technology Field

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)
The mission of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology is to provide leadership in educational communications and technology by linking professionals with a common interest in the use of educational technology and its application to the learning process -- (Student $50, Regular $95);

Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
AACE is an international, nonprofit educational organization. The Association’s purpose is to advance the knowledge, theory, and quality of teaching and learning at all levels with information technology -- (Student $55, Regular $95);

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
ISTE is a nonprofit professional organization with a worldwide membership of leaders and potential leaders in educational technology. They are dedicated to providing leadership and service to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in K–12 education and teacher education. They provide members with information, networking opportunities, and guidance as they face the challenge of incorporating computers, the Internet, and other new technologies into their schools -- (Student $40, Regular $65);

In addition to national professional associations, state and local associations can offer a great deal of knowledge and support to preservice teachers, from job listings to conferences. An example of a state organization is the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL), an organization whose annual technology conference is available to college students at a reduced rate ( Most associations also offer journal subscriptions and these are often included in the membership dues. For example, the MACUL journal is free with a membership; ISTE offers one journal free with membership and charges for additional journal subscriptions.

Also of benefit are the often free online or e-journals that are included or easily added to a membership in a professional organization.

Online Educational Technology Journals*

*Most of these journals are journals from a professional organization. Some are free available even for non members.

Attending conferences and joining professional organizations can be valuable to list on your resume because this tells your future employers that you strive to continue to develop your skills and continue to learn. Many schools have spent much money on new technologies so hiring teachers who can take advantage of available technologies is to your benefit. Your college campus or regional education organization, such as an Intermediate School District (ISD), may also offer organizational memberships, conferences, or workshops at a very reasonable cost.

As you join organizations, you then become a part of a community of educators who share a similar goal to become better in this field.

As a preservice teacher, learning about online communities can be quite advantageous. These virtual groups take the form of mailing lists or listservs (an email mailing list), chat rooms, and discussion forums. While each form of communication is unique, all of them bring like-minded people together and allow members to ask and answer questions of interest. Some are synchronous (real time) while others are asynchronous (not at the same time). In other words, synchronous communication forums such as chat rooms depend on people chatting about topics live on the Internet. Discussion forums are asynchronous forms of communication. Individuals can post messages and then go offline while the conversation continues. Other people will then see the posted messages and can choose whether or not to respond (see Figure at end of paragraph) -- If they choose to respond, they can reply at their convenience. A conversation can continue for many days, as users check back at their convenience.

These electronic forms of communication are also a great resource for preservice teachers. You can learn from experienced teachers, get ideas, or vent frustrations or fears that you might not wish to share with your peers, professors, or supervising teachers. Someone participating may be able to provide solutions and/or advice that can help improve a situation. Preservice teachers may also want to take advantage of the many free and inexpensive technology training opportunities available online. Teacher Tap ( is a resource that helps educators address common technology integration questions by providing online resources and activities. You can learn to use Microsoft FrontPage, Visio, Access or any Microsoft product for free at Microsoft’s educator site ( Many online tutorials for educationally related software are available at Internet4Classrooms (, and similar sites exist on the Internet (e.g., -- subscription-based with tutorial videos covering most popular software and online educational tools).

After working with software in a computer lab or classroom, you may decide to buy a copy for yourself. As a student, you can get substantial academic discounts on many hardware and software products. Some companies provide an education web page on their website where they offer special pricing for educators and students. You can also check with your campus bookstore or websites such as

In addition to building your resume and learning about technology, becoming aware of all the resources available on the Web that can aid you in your job search can be highly beneficial. There are numerous familiar generic job-search websites, but many lesser known websites are designed specifically for educators looking for teaching jobs (see next box)

COATT (Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching with Technology)

COATT was initiated through Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to provide an incentive for Michigan teachers to integrate technology into teaching. Basically, COATT is a certification that verifies that the learner has successfully integrated technology into a unit of instruction. It recognizes preservice and in-service teachers who have achieved a high standard of performance in integrating technology into classroom teaching. The preservice award is given to student teachers who integrate technology into a unit lesson plan, and the in-service award goes to practicing teachers who have demonstrated skill in integrating technology into their classrooms. Both groups submit an electronic portfolio to be considered. For examples and information, visit the COATT website at

The MAME List of Job-Search Websites
Michigan Teacher Network Job Listings
A site for all educators looking for jobs in Michigan K–12 schools -- Education America Network
The world’s most popular teaching destinations --
Includes job postings, links, resources, free e-mail, and other items of interest to educators --
From ASCD. is an online job bank and resume posting service. For all educators -- Job Hunt
A meta-list of online job-search resources and services -- Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. A national nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise esteem for teaching, expand the pool of qualified teachers, and improve the nation’s teacher recruitment, development, and diversity policies and practices. This site has links to state departments of education with certification information, articles about job searches and teaching, and an extensive list of Internet job banks --
The Michigan Teacher Network -- This site lists the dates of all teaching job fairs throughout the state and has more listings. (
GreatSchoolJobs!com -- Michigan school jobs -- MASB membership required.Teaching
and administrative positions as well as resume posting available -- Job Listings for Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA)
Michigan Live: Search Total Jobs -- Allows users to search for education or training employment ads in newspapers for Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Saginaw/Bay City/Midland area -- Michigan Regional Education Applicant & Placement Program (MIREAP) --
Job seekers can search for openings and post applications at the REAP site for free. The job search allows users to search by type of position, subject area, and region of the state. School districts pay a fee to participate -- -- Select MI from U.S. map; free membership required --
After securing your first teaching job, your professional development needs will continue. In-service teachers share many of the same professional development needs and interests as preservice teachers, but the in-service teacher is more likely interested in continuing their education -- perhaps just by earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or earning a master’s or doctorate degree -- Teachers in Michigan must complete 18 hours of credit toward a planned program in their first 5 years. Many teachers will take classes from a university, but others can receive credit for classes offered by their school district or ISD, or even by attending certain sessions at professional conferences. Many options exist and a teacher is usually free to choose the focus of these 18 hours. Some teachers choose to learn more about technology and might even enter a master’s program in educational technology -- A valuable resource for all educators has been the million dollar PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology) grants, offered since 1999, to help prepare preservice teachers to use technology. Many projects have received funding, and each project provides many resources to preservice educators and practicing teachers. The PT3 project websites offer some examples and strategies that grant award winners are using to teach technology integration. You can find many links to winners at -- The Technology Across Learning Environments for New Teachers (TALENT) ( site contains links to resources, tutorials, project-based learning, and more. See the Technology Lessons and Projects box for more technology resources, contacts, professional development sources and technology integration
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) publishes standards for both preservice and in-service teachers to follow and strive in the area of educational technology. These standards are called the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). For more information on NETS see -- In addition to teacher standards, ISTE also publishes standards describing what students, at each grade level, should know and be able to do with technology -- That is, they publish standards for you, as a teacher, to ensure that your students are meeting the minimum technology needed beyond the K–12 school year, and this is one way you can measure if your students are falling behind other students from around the country in technology competency. For example, if you visit
Technology Lessons and Projects
Global School House’s Project and Program: Their web page is an excellent source for finding current telecollaborative projects (projects that involve communicating by e-mail with students at other locations). Visit the Projects Registry to locate projects hosted by the Global SchoolNet Foundation, as well as projects from organizations such as NASA, in addition to outstanding projects conducted by classroom teachers from all over the world. (
I*EARN:The world’s largest nonprofit global network, I*EARN enables young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world. (
IECC: IECC is dedicated to helping teachers connect with other teachers to arrange intercultural e-mail connections between their students. (
GLOBE: GLOBE is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based education and science program. (
TERC:TERC is a nonprofit education research and development organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The mission is to improve mathematics, science, and technology teaching and learning. (
Check out the following:
NCREL: North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium -- resources for professional development and more. (
Marco Polo: A nonprofit consortium of education organizations dedicated to providing the highest quality Internet content and professional development to teachers and students throughout the United States. First launched in 1997 as a collection of standards-based, discipline-specific educational websites. (
Think Quest: Think Quest is an international website-building competition. Teams of students and teachers are challenged to build websites on educational topics, published in the popular Think Quest Library. (
Tech4 Schools: A free online mentoring program created by TECH CORPS© and sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Company. They connect IT professionals with educators who can give step-by-step technology advice and guidance -- (
Education with New Technologies:
This networked community is designed to help educators develop powerful learning experiences for students through the effective integration of new technologies. Through, you will find standards for Grades 6–8. The standards reveal that “Prior to completion of Grade 8 students will:

1. Apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems that occur during everyday use.

(1) 2. Demonstrate knowledge of current changes in information technologies and the effect those changes have on the workplace and society.

(2)”(ISTE) In fact, there is a list of 10 standards that should be met by grade 8. This means that 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers should all be concerned with teaching these technology competencies to their students. Every grade level is represented -- Fortunately, they also provide resources to help you accomplish the technology goals listed. ISTE provides a database of lessons and units that you can search ( Even if you are unable to find a specific lesson plan for your content area, you can still read through the actual standards and think of ways to meet these standards in your own teaching. If not now, this will become much easier when you have your own classroom and curriculum to follow. You might be able to request training in your future school district that follows the standards (this link provides actual workshops to help learn how to meet the standards: -- Many states have their own technology competency standards for teachers -- Some of these standards may differ in specifics from the national standards -- Others, such as Michigan with its 7th Standard in technology, are nearly identical to the national standards (Michigan’s 7th Standard is very closely aligned to the NETS)


preservice and in-service teachers will always have professional development needs in the area of technology. These needs may be met in a variety of ways, such as workshops, online resources, online classes, or attendance at local, state,

this ENT website, one has access to thoughtful colleagues, interactive tools, detailed
examples of technology-enhanced education, and a valuable collection of online
resources. (
NETS Digital Video Library: The DVL is a Web-based learning resource of lesson
activities drawn from the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for
Students and Teachers curriculum books. (
national and international conferences. Belonging to professional associations
and subscribing to journals in the educational technology field can help to ensure
that a teacher will not fall behind in their use of technology in the classroom -- State and national standards help teachers evaluate how well they and their students
are performing in the area of technology use and integration. These are
great tools in determining where improvement is needed. Part of being a professional
is being able to assess oneself and to seek out the means to improve or stay
current in all aspects of teaching. The dynamic nature of technology makes this
challenge more difficult, but not insurmountable. There is nothing a good teacher
cannot accomplish


1. What professional organizations should you join and why? Choose at least one in your subject area, one in technology, one national, one state, and one international organization. Compare them through membership benefits, conferences, journals, research, and other areas -- 2. Find a grant a PreK–12 teacher or preservice teacher may apply for. In one to two pages, describe an idea the grant could fund -- 3. Choose one of the standards for Profiles for Technology-Literate Teachers -- If you are a preservice teacher, choose from General Preparation or Professional Preparation; choose First Year Teaching if an in-service teacher ( teachers/t_profiles.html). Describe how you could demonstrate your mastery of this standard in a job interview, or create a technology lesson demonstrating your competency -- 4. How are you going to continue learning education technology skills so that you can ensure that your students will receive a solid foundation related to technology?


1. Investigate Internet based projects -- Describe three projects that fit your interests, curriculum, grade, subject, resources, and so on, as a future teacher -- 2. Team activity -- Choose ten best subject area/general teaching resources -- 3. Find the online Masters in Education program that you feel is the best for you -- Explain why you made your choice -- 4. Join or visit an online discussion group, listserv, or education chat room -- 5. Find a grant for which teachers may apply. Describe an idea the grant could fund -- 6. Choose one of the standards for Profiles for Technology-Literate Teachers -- If you are a preservice teacher, choose from General Preparation or Professional Preparation: choose First Year Teaching if an in-service teacher. (http://cnets.iste -- org/teachers/t_profiles.html) Describe how you could demonstrate your mastery of this standard in a job interview, or create a technology lesson demonstrating your competency -- RELLATED WEBSIITES
Academic Superstore
Discount software for teachers and students
All Education Schools
Descriptions of online Masters and Doctoral programs in education
COATT (Michigan 7th Standard)
Describes proficiency levels of Michigan technology standards
Free and inexpensive classes and tutorials
Online tutorials for educationally related software
ISD in the state of Michigan,1607,7-140-5373-78090 -- ,00.html
ISTE database
Provides a searchable database of lessons and units integrating technology
ISTE NETS teacher standards
ISTE student grade level technology standards
Links to technology learning experiences from online classes to short tutorials
MERIT Educational Resources
List of available classes for CEU credit
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning
State of Michigan Association for Educational Technology
Microsoft’s education site
Tutorials in all Microsoft software products
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)
Sample Technology Proficiency and Levels of Use Chart
PT3 project
Provides examples and strategies of technology integration award winners
TALENT (Technology Across Learning Environments for New Teachers
Links to resources, tutorials, project-based learning and more
Tapped In
A good example of a live chat community
Teachers Net
Light-hearted, less structured online conversation
Teacher Talk:
Free online community for teachers and students
Teacher Tap
Provides online resources and activities that address common technology
integration questions
Link2learn. (2000). “A Link to Learn Project.” The Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Retrieved 6/29/04 from -- Turkle, S. (2003). The Gender Gap in the Computer Culture. Retrieved 4/19/04 from

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